From Playground to Battleground:
Bullying: A Rampant Wildfire
Photo : Wikimedia Commons
“God, if You truly exists, please, please make them stop !”
There he was: with a shaky and timorous figure, with head bowed down like a praying priest, he was inwardly shouting, begging for help, his first time praying. If God`s mercy is not a lie then why…why do they have to pick on him, to push him around, to snatch the last remains of the strength to look people in the eyes and stand up for himself?
This is the story of millions of children and youth around the world who know how it is to be lost and hurt, left out in the darkness of depression, living daily on the edge of breaking down. This is how school became like a minefield where if a student is unlucky enough to have a birthmark, or a disability, a speech disorder or is not able to fit in the pattern drawn by “nowadays trends”, he becomes the perfect target for bullying. During school time, every day a child is excluded or rejected, a teenager is taunted and maliciously teased. And the victims of bullying find a solution in dropping school, self-harm or even suicide attempts.
Roxana, aged 13, is one of them. She admitted that she’s a victim of harassment at school. She makes this affirmation avoiding eye contact, lowering her voice to a mere whisper and with munching lips, as if trying to seal her pain behind her hushed voice. Yet, apart from the muffled “yes”, she refused to give me details about her experience with bullying. However, she talked about another classmate who is even in a worse situation: “One of my classmates is always tantalized by others because he is somehow different, shy and does not fit in the crowd. Now he is isolated from the rest of the class and no one tries to engage him in conversations.”
It is said that bullying is character building, but in fact bullying is more like a “complexes building”. A taunted child has the personality of a puzzle game. He is not able to put all those scattered pieces together. Living a life of being constantly harassed means struggling every day in a world where truth becomes a dilemma. Thus, the kid gets to the point where his sense of self-worth is lost among a downpour of name-callings, insults and other forms of tantalizing. But what is even worse is that each demeaning word strikes roots, and like a needle into a pincushion it fixes there, in the mind, and gradually the lie of “not being good enough” shifts into the “truth” that in the kid`s consciousness represents reality.
Regarding the affirmation of bullying being “character building”, Vlad, aged 19, states :”This is a complete folly. These forms of abuse, no matter if verbal or physical, lies or rumors, threats or rejection, do nothing but kill every single trace of self-confidence and self-esteem.” Irina, who is Vlad`s classmate, agrees with him: ”To me, bullying inhibits individuality and leads to inferiority complexes. After all, how can one grow stronger through abuse?”
Vlad is also the one who admitted being in the role of the bully several times. ”When I was in the middle-school I used to pester kids younger than me. But now, after some years, I realize that I didn`t do this because I wanted put someone down. It was just a silly way to have fun. Today I can see HOW silly it was.”
Reading this you may be thinking of possible situations when you were as well a bully without even being aware of it. After all, bullying is not a disease that you can identify by its symptoms. Maybe you were envious of your mate because he didn`t let you copy in the Maths test paper and you called him nerd, or maybe because you`re short, so you teased your colleague of being too tall. One way or another, no matter if we were actually conscious or not of our actions, we have all done it. It seems rooted in our human condition to make up for our shortages or our flaws and weaknesses with bitterness and anger. Thus, a bully conceals his insecurity and fear under the mask of violence and toughness. He tries to supply his need of belonging, of being “one of them” by imitating the others who bully. In the pursuit of an identity, a bully thinks that by making a person an outcast, he`ll be important and his image will last on the others impression.
Luckily, this problem is now being considered more and more by people around the globe and the toxic consequences of this rampant wildfire are being carefully studied. In schools, on television and magazines, messages like “Stop Bullying !”, ”Take A Stand Against Bullying” and “Rise Above” reveals the battle that is carried against this issue.
But let not make a war of all this! Instead of responding to a form of bullying with another one, think that this way you`ll continue an endless circle of violence and cruelty. When you feel like your blood is boiling with outrage, when you jaw is tight because of fury and your fist is a concrete ball, that`s the moment! Catch yourself in that instance and observe the rage and bitterness within, and then feel the negative emotion subsiding and watch your outward reactions. Can you respond to a slap with a caress?
Loose your grip and use your hand to hold a helpless hand! Open your mouth to produce echoes of sympathy and compassion! Use your eyes to behold the light in others and with your smile brighten the dark sides of a disheartened soul.
Let us be warriors of kindness!