I do not consider myself to be an author. But I saw the tweets for #AuthorsAgainstBullying and wanted to do something – however little my contribution is.
Every post I have read so far (and I have plenty more to read) are written from the point of someone who has suffered from bullying. I am shocked and horrified by the numbers of people, adults and children, who have been victimised at school. I have been reduced to tears by the accounts of those who were reduced to feeling so worthless and unloved that they could hurt themselves.
I cannot write this from the same personal level of understanding. I don’t believe I have been bullied. I write this as a terrified mother.
I went to boarding school. Living in a room full of girls exposes you to just about all the bitchiness, sarcasm, ganging up and nastiness that only girls can manage. The majority of those girls had parents in the Armed Forces or were otherwise very rich. My parents, on the other hand, worked their backsides off and went without luxuries to keep me there. I recall, within the first weeks of being there age 11, an after lights out conversation where I was told ‘Our dads save the country. What does you do?’ It was made clear to me I was inferior.
However, the focus of the bitchiness regularly moved on. There were 3 main instigators in our dormitory, but no one of the rest of us was singled out all the time. I think we all suffered from living in close proximity of other girls.
I never felt bullied. I did take with me certain issues when I left school. I preferred the company of one or two close friends than moving in a herd of girls. I felt inadequate, unfeminine and ugly. I wore sloppy jumpers and jeans and generally did what I could to avoid the notice of the alpha girls. But I don’t feel that I was bullied. Just cautious of the female of the species.
So this brings us to my fears now as a mother. I know how nasty kids can be, girls and boys. And that is just in general, as a group. I know how they can destroy your confidence and how you can end up crying yourself to sleep at night. I cannot imagine how much worse it would be to be individually singled out and victimised systematically.
My daughter is 6 and in her 3rd year of primary school. She has come home once in tears because her friends were mean to her. Collecting her from school and having her breakdown as soon as we reached the car was heartbreaking. I was furious that someone could make my child cry but also petrified that I didn’t know how to handle it and how to help her. As it turned out, I reacted by storming back into the school and demanding an explanation from the teacher as to what had happened and why they hadn’t seen it.
What worries me though, is how to help prepare her for secondary school, when the class sizes are so much larger, the potential for bitchiness so much more and when I can’t go storming into the school to fight her corner. How do I teach her to react to bullying? Should she ignore it? Report it? Shout back? Punch them in the nose, as my dad would say?
I don’t have a solution yet. But if anyone knows of a good one, please share it!
There is more information about Authors Against Bullying here! http://news.yahoo.com/samhain-publishing-authors-support-authors-against-bullying-event-123224313.html