I read a heart-breaking article this morning about a 12-year-old girl who committed suicide – all because the 'cool group' saw her as fat and ugly. This brought back a rush of memories from my own school years, memories that still sting 14 years after leaving school…
I can’t remember much about my earlier years in Primary School, but I do recall wanting to be a part of a group of girls, the cool group, and them voting no on me joining the elite. At that point the school library became my haven – I lost myself in between the pages of whatever book I could find. In my last year in Primary School I was put in charge of the library, I think Head Library Prefect would be the correct translation. I was told by my peers that the only reason why I had the title was because I was sucking up to the teacher. No dears, the reason why I had the title is because you banned me from your group, because you were the Wolf Pack.
Eventually I entered High School, with high hopes that I could leave my lone wolf status behind me, but things proved to be more challenging that anticipated.
My first year I was bullied so badly that my mother had to intervene. The bullies, being ‘sport heroes’ of our grade, nearly got away with it and it was only after I threatened the principle with my mother, that he actually reacted. You see, my mom has piercing blue-eyes that, when angry, would make Lord Voldemort quiver with fear.
I found myself floating from group to group and eventually settled down into a group halfway through High School. This is it, I thought. Friends. Belonging. Acceptance. BFFs 4 life. When you are a teenager that is all you want.
It was only in my last year in High School that I found out that my “friends” were getting together over weekends – and I was never invited.
I’ve been told that my school experience sharpen and made me the person that I am today – sure, but it doesn’t take away the sting, even years later, so imagine what it felt like at 12.
Today, at the age of 30-something, life is very different.
They say that as you get older your friends become fewer, this isn’t so, my friends have expanded and I can honestly say that I can pick up the phone, at any time, and phone any of them and they will be there. No 'but', 'maybes' or any questions asked. They are not fly-by-nights, nor friends from school. They are my friends, the true kind. Heck, 14 years later I even belong to a Wolf Pack. ;-)
My message is this, don’t lose hope. School isn’t forever (even though it feels like it), hang in there and walk out with your head held high cause you survived.
Teachers open your eyes, take notice. You see these children every day, act. Parents talk to your children, open the lines of communication, teach your child compassion.
Bullying isn't just a child hitting others or being verbally abusive. It is a real or perceived power imbalance. It is subtle. It is hurtful.