14 October 2010

On Bullying

This - On Good Kids and Total Fucking Assholes - Kate Harding
Also, can we stop telling said tormented kids that the correct response is to ignore the bullies? Has that ever, in the entire history of weirdo kids and the aggressive little shits who enjoy hurting them, actually made a bully stop? Seriously, if I ever have a kid who gets bullied like I did — verbally, daily, constantly — or like Al did — verbally and physically, daily, constantly — my best advice will be this: “You know what, sweetie? That kid is a TOTAL FUCKING ASSHOLE, and you should feel free to say so — scream so — to anyone who will listen. I don’t care if you get punished for it at school, and you won’t get punished for it at home.” Honestly, I don’t think that would do much to stop the bullying, and it might even make things worse. But at least it’s the truth, and it feels good to say it.

But most especially this: Bitterness, Bullying and Breaking the Circle - Seanan McGuire

Fine. My day was fine. I had a lot of "fine" days back then. It's amazing how often "fine" meant "horrible, terrible, mortifying, humiliating, dehumanizing, brutal." All I ever had to say was "fine."

We've known for a long time that school bullying was out of control, but every time it gets "uncovered" again, people react like it's some sort of shock. Kids can be mean? HORRORS! Kids bully other kids? HORRORS!


Go read the full posts and comments, because they say it far more eloquently than I could ever manage.

Bullying is why I hated secondary school with a black passion - possibly stemming from having so much time off ill that on those rare ocassions I was there... didn't go well. Because it's so much fun to play the 'let's keep kicking Jen in the back of the knee to see how long it takes to fall over' game.

This meant I started asking to be home schooled from the age of 11, because the learning side of things I liked. It was just the people. (Not that I'd ever admit it at the time, because you're supposed to shrug these things off, aren't you? And if they keep it up, it's obviously your fault for not finding the right way to deal with it. It's just words. Toughen up. Ignore them. Fight back. Speak out. Yeah, right.)

Homeschooling seemed the perfect solution, except the parentals routinely had to say no due to a) mum felt her education level wasn't sufficient to do the teaching herself and b) the financial situation was so not capable of funding tutors to come in. So I learned the subtle art of staying way the hell away from anyone while making it look like I wasn't bothered by the words and sniggering and mysteriously missing chairs and so on. I spent lunchtimes in classrooms (generally not eating) using the excuse of having homework to finish. Kept my head down and got on with work quietly. And hated every minute of it. Ask me in person and I'll deny that a block of my life ever happened, which is such a waste.

Then I hit 15 and finally things started looking up. There were only a few months to go until I was legally allowed to abandon the whole damn school system and do my own thing so the lovely parentals juggled finances enough to get a couple of tutors in to do the homeschooling thing and shut the education board up for a while. And after the point of freedom, mum insisted I go to night school to get some GCSEs. Adult Education? Best thing ever. Mature students are routinely awesome. (Which goes double for mum who consistently tried to find creative solutions for everything. Also, she did a couple of the GCSEs with me, which was fun. I beat her in English, we hit a tie in Spanish. Have I mentioned lately that my mum's very cool?)

Other adults, not so cool. Head of year? One of the Phys Ed teachers, so when, finally, I had a weak moment and told mum and it went to teacherly intervention, didn't go well. (Because, of course, the main instigators were also on the sports teams and popular and yaddah yaddah.) And predominantly verbal bullying apparently doesn't count. (So, what, you want evidence of serious physical abuse before you act?) The oh-so-useful teachers managed an assembly on bullying (like that was going to do any good) and, amusingly, in the next class, a couple of the instigators, in a very blatant fake-break-up ploy, sent a minion to ask if I was going to say anything. (I think I managed a vaguely sarcastic non-committal comment.)

I'll let Kate Harding sum things up:
But frankly, I don’t really give a rat’s ass why they’re like that — I just want them to stop. And I want every adult who has ever minimized the impact of bullying, who has ever made excuses for a bully instead of standing up for a victim, who has ever described a child known to viciously torment other children as “a good kid, really!” to know this: You are a total fucking asshole.

1 comment:

Jan Edwards said...

So right.