Stand up: I don’t want to be a bystander

28 Jul

I know everyone has practically done the subject of bullying to death, blogged about it, reported on it, written songs about it, we even have an anti bullying month! But there’s a good reason for it, and I’m sad to say that despite every tool we have available to counter act bullying, I’ve seen first hand recently that it’s still not enough.

The other day I was walking around town enjoying a day off, and the fact that I had just passed my driving test, desperately trying to locate some sun tan lotion to smother myself in, so I don’t toast in the current heat wave sweeping across Britain. Luckily for me, Boots is having a massive sale on sun tan lotion, so when I next go out into the daylight, there will be a factor 50 barrier between my pale skin and the suns death rays. I decided to take a break in my favourite (expensive) hangout Costa’s, and was enjoying a frapaccino, chatting away to cute Costa barista guy, when I noticed the table next to me full of school kids, (they’re out in force now its the holidays) laughing and making a few childish comments at another girl passing their table. I’m ashamed to say that I ignored it, did nothing, and carried on chatting away, after all ‘they were just kids mucking around’ I thought to myself ‘that’s what kids do.’ So I left Costa’s (can’t spend all my days hanging around coffee shops unfortunately) and later saw a few of the same kids walking behind the girl from the coffee shop, to the outside eye they were just laughing noisily in a big group, it was only because I had been in the coffee shop earlier, that I knew they were laughing at her, then one of them tripped her. I know as well as anyone that kids can be physical in their playfulness sometimes, but this was bullying, and I know bullying, because for two very small unpleasant periods in my life…I was bullied.

I decided I wasn’t having this, I walked over to the group and told them in no uncertain terms to bugger off, I’m pretty small for my age so I got a mouthful until they could tell I wasn’t screwing around, they left muttering and still pretty mouthy, but at least they left, and they didn’t leave smiling. I don’t tend to get involved in the altercations of strangers, because it can only exacerbate the situation, but I remembered when I use to walk home from school and boys (who didn’t even know me and weren’t in my year) on bikes would ride around me, screaming obscenities and pulling my hair, I remembered how everyone else who was walking by at the time did nothing, could see I was upset and outnumbered, and just let it happen, I had never felt so alone in my entire life. It didn’t go on long, on the third occasion when they got close enough to grab my hair, I lost my temper, pushed them off their bikes and gave them a mouthful. It never happened again.

So I asked her if she was ok, she was slightly tearful and more embarrassed I think than anything, I asked all the right questions, has she told her parents, a teacher? How long had it been going on? She was reluctant to tell me anything, but we chatted a little, and instead of telling her to do all the typical things we are supposed to tell someone in that situation, I told her the one thing I wish I had realised a lot sooner. That you don’t have to take it, that you don’t deserve it, and the minute you make that decision that this won’t be happening to you again and fight back, is the minute bullying ends. I ended up giving her my email address in case she ever wanted to talk some more or needed help, and I said goodbye to a sweet, shy young girl, who obviously had damaged self-confidence.

With all the celebrity anti bullying campaigns, bullying awareness and anti bullying procedures schools have in place, it’s almost unthinkable that it still continues. That with all the support and help and information in place, kids are still hanging themselves, suffering in silence, and accepting this treatment. So why do people bully? I’ve never understood it myself, I’ve never bought into the whole ‘I had a bad childhood, that’s why I bullied’ crap. My childhood wasn’t ideal, but I didn’t go around tormenting other children and neither did my brother Aaron. Why are some children victims? Well…there is no valid reason why anyone should be a bully, or a victim. I was lucky, my bullying experience was short-lived and didn’t leave a mark on me, I had lots of friends and was well liked by most of my year, but I have a cousin who was bullied for years, and with every anti bullying procedure her school had, nothing was achieved except her having to move schools to escape her tormentors. My youngest brother at only seven, has also experienced bullying, its worrying to think my bright bubbly three-year old sister, who will soon be going off to school might become some cowards next victim. I looked at that girl from the coffee shop and saw myself, my cousin, my youngest brother and my sister.

Tell someone, fight back, take action. No one deserves bullying or should accept it

Will we ever beat bullying? I’d love to say yes more than anything, but probably not, some people just seem to have an endless facility for unnecessary cruelty, these are the people who make the world a worse place to live in. We may not be able to able to stop all of these people, but we can counter act by doing good things, by making an effort to go out of our way to help and support others, even strangers. A kind word, a smile, the smallest thing can make a difference. Without wanting to sound preachy, I don’t want to accept the world the way that it is, where a nice girl can’t enjoy the best years of her life, because her peers have chosen to torture her for no reason.

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5 Responses to “Stand up: I don’t want to be a bystander”

  1. meganchapple July 29, 2012 at 4:15 pm #

    I get very angry when I see girls from my school post things about hating bullies and “be yourself” when these are the exact same girls who used to bully me and my friends at school. They don’t even realise that they themselves were bullies which means they don’t realise how hurtful their actions were. Really grates on me

    • StephBristow July 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm #

      Sometimes I think people need a wake up call, I’ve always been in favour of victims later confronting their bully and telling them exactly what effect they had on their life. So that person whether sorry or not realises exactly what they’ve done…but it does hurt when you get the ‘it was only a bit of fun’ response. Even worse when some people stay bullies through out their entire life from the playground to the work place. God knows what the answer is! How long where you bullied for? xx x

      • meganchapple July 29, 2012 at 7:22 pm #

        pretty much all of secondary school. It started when I moved house and knew no one so I was always the outsider. I was also a tom boy. Hated make up and loved play fighting with the boys. The girls hated me and constantly told me I was ugly. I guess that’s one of the reason I did the whole modelling thing. I thought about confronting them but the fact that my studying got me a degree and a job and I was a paid freelance model as well whilst at uni says it all really.

      • StephBristow July 29, 2012 at 7:49 pm #

        awww girls can be worse than the boys with all the bitchiness. I always go with the phrase if you wouldn’t like someone saying it to you then why say it to another. Well you and I certainly know your not ugly by a long shot! Beautiful inside and outside kiddo! Some people for some reason seem determined to go out of their way to cause others unhappiness! But you certainly won in the end x x

      • meganchapple July 29, 2012 at 9:20 pm #

        Yes, when you get older you realise they only did it to make themselves feel better about their lives but at the time it can make you feel like you were in the wrong and that you really are worthless. All I can say for some of them is that they may have been bitches but karma was a bigger bitch

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