The Effects of Bullying: Robert’s Story 4

Join me in welcoming Robert to my first Effects of Bullying Series.

Robert’s Story

I’m convinced that schools and me were never meant to get on; my trouble with handwriting, spelling and mental mathematics caused a lot of grief. But there was something else present every day, which I detested more: break time.

For me, someone who likes to be forever mentally engaged, break time was the dullest thing ever invented. The other children would talk and play team games like football while I sat in an alcove in the corner of the playground, avoiding the missiles, waiting for the bell to go back inside.

Around nine at the time, an undiagnosed autistic, my interests lay in creativity and making things. I began bringing my creations along with me. So rather than hiding in the corner doing nothing at all, I would work on one of my projects. That’s when the bullying started.

I no longer remember many of the details, but a few students decided that it was a good game to steal and smash-up my creations. Or when they could not steal my stuff, like in class, they would threaten to smash-up my creations, doing hand gestures across the room, like snapping a ruler between clenched fists.

These things represented a great deal of time and effort and I was working with very limited resources and almost no money. Materials and tools were sacred, I worked mainly with what I could find around the house. Breaking, or threatening to break my creations was like breaking a part of me. None of these things could be easily replaced.

Like typical British primary schools, my school was very small; avoiding the bullies was not possible. Nothing the staff did made any noticeable difference and the only friends I had at the time, while great technically minded individuals themselves, were also targets and could do nothing to help. I felt trapped with nowhere to go.

A ray of hope I had been the move to senior school; a completely new set of people and nobody knows me, a chance to start over. The reality was the opposite, even though I had moved beyond lugging projects around a new set of bullies picked up my differences and the bullying started again, but worse.

Instead of focusing on my possessions, this new set of bullies started attacking me personally, kicking, punching and verbal abuse. I was terrified to go anywhere alone, hid in the Special Educational Needs room over breaks and lunch and refused to go anywhere without a support worker for protection.

Combined with the increased demand on handwriting, this meant I was always on edge, always looking for an escape route if something went bad and always ready to meltdown. Unfortunately the latter happened rather a lot, drawing more attention to my differences and making the problem exponentially worse.

These problems and the bullying continued relentlessly. Finally getting a computer eliminated my writing difficulties but the problems only really stopped when I eventually left school and went to college.

Anxiety, fear and constant observation of the environment; always looking for danger, are often cited as symptoms of mild autism. But my own experiences say something different, they are side effects of a difficult childhood.

I have never completely recovered from the bullying in my childhood. While I have been able to overcome my fear of going out alone, I am still very shy and have had no friends to speak of since primary school. My interests and current projects are kept to myself and I’m more likely to accept something as given, or just avoid it altogether, rather than argue.

It gets easier, slowly.

Input and Support Needed 14

Robert suggested a series on bullying and agreed to be my first guest. I am calling on parents who have children who have been victims of bullying or who have been a bully, as well has those who have been victims of bullying themselves to share stories of how the bullying affected them. Be as general as you like if somethings are too uncomfortable to share.

An aside: I recently updated the look and added pages to my blog. Please let me know what you think?

Final Request: Many of you know my daughter has been sharing her stories about how bullying affected her. Please stop by and comment on her post, It Still Hurts and please comment on others’ stories, starting with Robert’s as I post them as well. I will give you more details when I actually start the series. I will probably try to have a post either every couple of weeks or once a month depending on how many respond. I realize many of you feel that you cannot handle reading these stories and I understand, but I also think it is important to support those who have been on the receiving end of bullying and I hope you agree. They deserve our support! That is why I decided to change my stance and openly support my daughter. I am very proud of her.

Addendum:

My daughter’s blog is now private so I have removed the link to her blog. Please respect her privacy.

 

Movie May Encourage Bullies 4

I am watching Cyberbully, but I cannot help but wonder if it will cause harm instead of helping.  I hope not, but other movies and shows actually contributed to the bullying problem.  I know from talking to other parents that too many are clueless as to what their children do online. We have friends who have no clue about Facebook, Twitter, or other social media sites.

There are parents like Lindsey’s father in the movie who also believe their child has the “right” to harass others online. It really upsets me that this character is an attorney.  An attorney should know that harassment is against the law in all fifty states even the ones without specific bullying laws. Hawaii is one of the states without a bullying law, but our harassment law does offer some protection against cyberbullying. The principal’s excuse that the school has no responsibility does not hold true in most states anymore either especially when the child is being openly harassed at school in relation to the Internet posting.  

I hope others watched until the end at least!  They finally show the power of bystanders at the end of the movie.  I wish they has focused on this throughout the movie.  I hope this is the message that sticks!  

Did you watch?  What did you think? 

Still Hoping for the Times to Change 4

The University of Utah held a conference on bullying this week at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver Center for Community Caring. You can read about it here. You might believe they addressed just school bullying. That is not so. Susan Swearer, a keynote speaker, noted, “This is not just a kid issue, it is not an adult issue. It is a community issue.” I concur with this completely.  

Society, as a whole needs to change; adults need to set better examples. Values need to be adjusted and positive behavior needs to be rewarded. All too frequently this is not the case. We see it everywhere. Our politicians give us the most public display of bullying in the United States every election with all of the mudslinging.

I do have one concern with something Swearer said that I think might cause her words to have less power. She noted that the victims of bullying who commit suicide, “have a vulnerability” and she referred to bullying as “the tipping point.” I have a problem with this one. She seems to be giving the bullies an out for their mean behavior.

Swearer also made another good point that I have been trying to make; we need to stop vilifying the bully and realize that regular people are bullies too. We need to correct the bully’s behavior not become the bully. What do you think?