Monday, 12 September 2011

What about Bullying?

Now they're all back at school I was hoping life would be peaceful and uncomplicated. Each evening, when the kids come home from school we go through the usual.

"What did you have for lunch?"
"Something black"

"What did you do in class?"
"Something about war/drawing/got sent out."

"What do you have for homework?"
"Nothing."

However, today it was a little bit different. I have no idea how we got onto the conversation but I think I asked Finn who he played with at break time.
"No one",  he said "I just read my comic"  He wasn't moaning just stating a fact.
"...then Tom, Robert and David came over and pulled the comic out of my hands and ripped it up."

"Ooookaaay", I said carefully, "What did you do?"
"Nothing."

My son sat there and let some other boys take his comic and rip it up and did nothing.

"Why didn't you tell a teacher? Why would they do that and why didn't you do anything about it?" I was beginning to get a bit panicky.  I could hear the tone of my voice rising. I was holding down a rising bile in my chest...and I was afraid.

"Because no one will do anything and they say I'm weird!"

Then it all came spilling out.  For the past year my son has suffered constant torment.  Not from one boy but from 11. And I had no idea.

I sat down, with a piece of paper and wrote down everything he told me.

The torment does not come in forms of beatings but from sly nudges with bags, from shoulder bashes, from laughing and sniggering when he stands up to read or recite. They put out their feet when he passes by so that he'll trip. They pull out his chair when he's about to sit down.  He's been kicked down the stairs and suffered a bloody mouth.  He's been pushed off his bike.  He no longer plays football with the boys during games and plays rounders with the girls, because the girls leave him alone.

He's been told he's not cool.
He's been told he's thick.
He's been told he's strange because he loves skateboarding.
He's been told his weird because he loves to draw intricate, detailed sketches.
He's been told everyone hates him.

Why?  I have no idea. I think because Finn is "so nice" everyone thinks they can do what they want to him...and get away with it. And clearly they have. Finn won't complain to his teacher because  he says "she won't listen".

I've noticed that he wasn't invited to some parties but I wasn't duly concerned...not everyone gets invited.  During the summer he hadn't invited any one over and although I noticed that he spent time alone, I was unconcerned as I believed he was a loner. A bit like me.  Happy in his own company..but he isn't.  I now wonder whether the headaches that he has suffered from are as a result of the pressure that he has been under.  He tells me that some of the boys come up to him after he's suffered at their hands and tell him "Don't take it personally...it's just the way it is!" and individually, he tells me they are really quite nice...but in a group he is their target. He hadn't told me as he had accepted it as part of his life....and I feel disgusted with myself for not realising.

How do you tell your child he's the coolest boy on the planet and that he will go on to do great things because of his innovative thinking and ideas. That he is kind and thoughtful. How do you tell your child that some boys are shits and they'll maybe grow into shitty adults. How do you tell your son that there are nasty creeps out there, that pick on others because they are so inadequate themselves. Or do I tell him to get a grip or punch their lights out, when you know they'll stamp all over him? Do you tell him to grow a pair, or do you grow a pair for him and sort it out?


As he lay on his bed not weeping, nor feeling sorry for himself, I asked him

"Do you want me to punch their lights out?"

He laughed and said

"No Mummy, you'll probably get into trouble"

I can't do anything about it, because he won't let me. I want to take each of these boys and tell them they're wrong, but they're just kids. They don't really understand the concept of insidious bullying. They don't understand how it can make life a misery as they're only children. All I can do is prepare him. To make him strong. To know that being nice isn't a crime, or even wrong. To bite back when they hurt him, either with words or with his fists. I need to make him angry enough to stop it.
 

I can't change what others think about him and I can't make him popular but I need to make him know that he isn't "rubbish...because he isn't!! 

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