07 March 2010

On Bullying - and Why the Parents of Bullies Should be Punished along with their Children

Those of you who grew up with me at Benedictine Abbey School know this: I was bullied horribly as a child. I have no idea what I did to merit such treatment, but I spent eight years getting stuff thrown at me and being called names. My unusual surname was made fun of, I was derided for being bookish and bespectacled. It was as if everything I did was wrong in the eyes of those around me.

I had my hair permed when I was eleven - and ended up being called an Aeta because the resulting perm was so damned kinky. My grandfather died when I was twelve - and the boys in my class said it was because he had a heart attack at the sight of my ugly face. I was told I was ugly and stupid and naive - by girls whom I considered my friends. I was kicked down a staircase, but the school did nothing because the kid who gave the push was the spoiled-rotten youngest son of a prominent official. In fact the school made me look like a villain, that I brought it upon myself because I would not behave like all the other kids.

Is it really so wrong to be different? Is it really wrong to dance to the beat of a different drummer? When I was growing up, that seemed to be the norm. If you were different, you were considered weird, ugly, stupid, crazy - all manner of labels would be plastered over you. The school guidance counsellor used to say I was severely maladjusted and needed professional help. I tried everything I could to fit in and I failed miserably.

It's been nearly twenty years since those horrific times. I have since grown up; we've all grown up - except for the kid who kicked me down the stairs; he died when we were nineteen - kidnapped and brutally murdered. It was all over the papers - but, strangely enough or perhaps not - I felt no sympathy. The big bully finally found bigger bullies who tragically knocked him into his place - most likely one of the lowest circles of hell.

I wrote this entry because I just saw something on TV this afternoon. It's just another of those cheap, hastily done local soap operas, but the tragic tale of the ugly, outcast kid bullied by prettier, wealthier, but spiritually uglier brats is still one that harrows up my soul after all these years. Children who bully others are the ones who need professional help. They are the maladjusted ones. They are the ones with the real issues. I mean, really: who cares how pretty you are, how smart you are if you have a mouth full of insults and a mouthful of hate. The parent who encourages his or her children to bully others should be sent to jail and kept there for rest of his or her life.

Because behind the little brats who make life miserable for their peers are parents who are little more than monsters themselves.

Think about that.

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