A deeper look at bullying
Reading over the last post on bullying, I agree that it was a very personal piece without a lot of interest for others not in that situation. To that end, I would like to just flesh out the concepts behind the specifics. My daughter is in Year Eight and that is a time fraught with emotional outbursts and changing loyalties and differing levels of growth and therefore tensions are rife. Not to mention the fact that boys and girls start buying into the “us versus them” mentality.
I look back at me and I can see that I was arrogant. I was top of the class without trying. I liked and was liked by most of my teachers. And the ones I didn’t like I gave a hard time. I was volatile, partly because of the
Roaccutane I was taking for horrible acne. I wasn’t good at sport and I was one of the original computer nerds. And debating nerd. And theatre geek. On coming back from Canada to Year 10, I was furthermore a world travelled teenager in an insular tiny country town.
I read everything, especially horror. I fell in love easily. I stayed up late and got up early.
As a teacher I look at some kids that just scream “target”. I am sure that some of my teachers thought the same way. I am soooo glad I didn’t grow up with the Internet.
I don’t remember feeling lonely, although I am sure I did.
I remember being scared of some of the people who threatened me. I have mentioned the moron who told me in class that he wanted to push my head through a wall. I remember going all the way around the school and hiding by the bins so that I didn’t have to confront him.
I kind of wish that I had just confronted him. Let him hit me. Gotten that fear out of my mind and out into the real world where I could deal with it. Surely it wouldn’t have been that bad. Maybe it would have. I don’t know.
I have been in exactly one fight. The boys in the class pitted me against someone else that they didn’t like. We snarked at each other for a couple of days and then agreed to fight up by the cricket nets. A group surrounded us. He hit me in the stomach. I fell over. That was the end of it. It was incredibly humiliating, but neither of us could be bothered keeping up the animosity after that.
I remember feeling incredibly betrayed by people I thought were my friends. We went to parties together in primary school. We played in the yard. Our parents were friends. And then they weren’t friends. They ostracised me. They laughed at me. They held Year level parties that I wasn’t invited to. Funnily enough, they invited me to a party at the end of year 8 as a going away. There was some snarking but on the whole it was an ok evening. They were happy to be nice knowing that I was leaving?
It wasn’t as bad in Year 10 – they just couldn’t keep it up. There were pockets of idiots, and I didn’t get along with most of the year level, but I had friends, and wasn’t being actively bullied, except by a couple. Shereen and I broke up over something that was absolutely my fault and then the friendship group disappeared again. I spent most of the year in the library. A weeklong camp in the city was hellish. I repaired a lot of that damage over the year and in year 11 and 12 I had some good friends. VCE still sucked. Our year level was mainly terrible – the worst group to go through the school in eight years. VCE was new and we all hated it. My design for our year 12 jumper was: VCE – in line for the dole queue. But I survived.
God, how depressing… having to say that you survived high school.
My wife and I tell our daughter, and I tell kids at school, that high school is fleeting. At University, you find people accepting of your differences. Those people who are popular in high school, rather than nice (you can absolutely be nice and popular – hi Cate) will find that that popularity goes away outside of the artificial construct that is the school system.
But it absolutely doesn’t help while you are in high school. It doesn’t help when your entire life is immediate and the future is a concept that means nothing compared to girlfriends and grades and being part of a group.
My diary from years 10-12 was mainly concerned with girls. I didn’t focus on the bullying; I have always been good at hiding from my problems. I read through it again last night and this is ALL I could find that even came close to referencing bullying. Lyndon is the guy that I thought was Shannon (sorry Shannon).
I remember being ruled by my emotions. I was not a rational being. I look around at my students – at twenty different facial expressions while they write a test – and have to remember how I felt in those days. It’s hard to do when you’re forty-four.
Mum and Dad offered to move me to another school when I was in Year 11. I refused. I think I refused because I was 1) scared I would be forced to do more work and 2) terrified that it wouldn’t be any better and all the tiny supports I had built up would be gone.
Every little thing that I have done in my life has led me to here. I like here. There are so many mistakes I would prefer not to have made, but they all got me to this place. As a teacher, I am hyper-vigilant for bullying. My experiences got me to this point where I can help others.
Silver lining, eh?