Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Say NO to Bullies

Do the memories and trauma's associated with bullies and bullying stay with us into our middle and old age? I believe they do. Not only was I, Mrs Teacup, a victim of bullies and bullying most of my school life but worse still I can remember the taunts, name calling, whispers and abuse like it was yesterday. And even worse than all that, is the lifelong emotional and psychological damage that can haunt a child. As an adult, teacher and trainer in early year’s education, I do not suffer bullies in my classrooms wherever I am in the world and I role model respect, kindness, fairness and tolerance.

Forty five years ago I was teased because my dad was a successful and talented artist and architect. We lived in a nice house down a country lane and he drove a Jaguar. I had a middle class accent from middle class England and I wore middle class clothes. But as a small child and teenager none of this was my fault (if there is ever any fault with anyone) and the comments and taunts were scary and hard to comprehend. Because of these outrageous individuals and ghastly comments I hated my school days, and have traumatic memories, but despite it all did well enough to gain a place at university.

The taunts and bullying were so bad I would never let my dad drive me to school; I would rather walk or get the bus. If he did insist on driving me, he had to drop me in an obscure back street far enough away not to be seen or my day and life at school would not be worth living. I would walk the last part of the journey, often alone, in order to survive the bullies and the forthcoming day in school.

It was not just me who got it in the neck, there was a few of us. One girl who had been adopted was bullied and often beaten to a pulp. I would stick up for her and then they attacked me too but I didn't care, I have never been one to hold back or be frightened to speak up. But that probably made it worse for me as I was not afraid to stand up for me, others and the poor adopted young girl. Still am not even now.

The funniest part is that these kids had no idea how they made me stronger; more determined to show them who the “daddy” was. I am a survivor, a fighter, and I come back stronger and more determined every time I am knocked back. But can you imagine where I may have ended up (and where some poor individuals do end up) when the bullies get the better of them and confidence and self-esteem is knocked. Difference is what makes the world go round and what makes us all interesting and unique, why would we tease and taunt someone cause they are different?? But we all know "difference" is an easy option for a bully.

I have encountered bullying behaviour all over the world in all cultures. Bullying and bullies do not discriminate and we could all find ourselves at some point in our lives the victim of an individual or individuals that can't resist having a go or a “pop” at us about something or another. Have the confidence to have a comeback and stick up for you in an honest mature but assertive manner. Walk away and don’t beat yourself up about their undignified behaviours. Stand tall and know you are special and have greatness within you.   

So my advice to the bullied is fight the good fight, rise up and show 'em what you've got. Don't be beaten, come back stronger than ever, fulfil your dreams, hopes and wishes. Stay true to yourself, set an exemplary example; shame the bullies. Have a mind of your own and do not succumb to such disgusting behaviour, always be the one to teach those around you the right path. Do great things for the world and, where possible, those within it.

Remember my opening paragraph that after forty five years I still remember the words, taunts and associated feelings as strong today as all those years ago, consequently, so will the little people we have the privilege of teaching in our early years settings. Be aware of, and wise to, unwanted negatives in your classrooms. Nip in the bud quickly behaviours that damage self-esteem and confidence and role model fair balanced honest and trustworthy relationships.

You will probably be shocked to know that I have witnessed bullying with a child as young as two years old, so much so that when the toddler arrived in my class her hair was falling out, she was mute and her confidence and self-esteem were at an all-time low. In her previous setting she had been pushed and poked, hair pulled and persistently bitten by one particular child. She moved to my setting and my staff team gradually built up her confidence and self-image until she was able to speak eloquently, participated with her peers and began to have fun. That precious and delightful bundle of joy grew and matured into the eminent woman she is today and who now imparts her experiences to others around the world.

So say NO to bullies, in fact sometimes it is ok to say something stronger to a bully, but best of all, role model positive ethical respectful behaviour and expose the bully as the coward that they actually are. We should all be working together to make sure all children have a safe and fun world to develop and grow in. #justsaying

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