A NUMBER OF tragic incidents in Ireland over the past number of months has pushed the subject of bullying into the headlines. This week (4 – 10 March) the ISPCC is running Anti-Bullying Awareness Week to highlight the issue of bullying and discuss solutions to the problem from the point of view of children, parents, teachers and bystanders.
We asked you to tell us your experiences and we were inundated with responses. Here are your experiences, in your words, of bullying at school…
I never write or ring into places or papers, but this issue is so serious. The more that is done the better. I am a parent of two wonderful boys who are being bullied verbally and physically on almost daily basis. One boy more so as he is the one who sticks up for himself, so he seems to be targeted more. They’re good lads and do nothing to deserve it. The bullies do it so cleverly that teachers and staff are completely unaware what is happening around them. The school does plenty of talks each year, but it doesn’t work. The management and staff are so busy that they don’t even have time to care and when they do punish it, it is not enough.
One of my kids has just gone into second year and was beaten up by a sixth year. All the boy got was a three day suspension. Other kids from his class just watched and nobody intervened. Neither the child or parent has apologised for his actions. The principal didn’t even look at the footage of what happened, he thought ‘oh it’s dealt with now, the boy has owned up to what he’s done’. A few days later, I spoke to colleagues in the school and asked for them to keep any eye on my child, they hadn’t heard a single word or were not made aware of certain pupils that are vulnerable and under constant treat of bullying.
How do I protect my child
All I keep doing is re-assuring my children of their worth and how much they’re loved. I tell them that most of these bullies end up as wasters, so to speak. They say they’re okay, but I know by their sad faces it gets to them. I could easily be one of those parents whose child commits suicide over this. I am at a loss as to how best protect my child – neither the school or the parents care. I have seen some of these bullies profiles on a social network and they seem so popular it’s beyond belief. Even kids who are really nice to my boy at school turn different when the bullies, the so-called cool kids, are around and they join in on the laughing. I am trying to teach my children how to deal with it, but they say it’s so NOT cool to tell someone, that’s why kids are suffering in silent.
One of my children went on a social network for a while. The amount of horrible things you could see his class mates do was ridiculous, like tagging other kids in horrible pictures and calling each other awful names. As a parent I check things regularly while they’re online and I have their passwords always. No under 18-year-olds should be online without a parent having their password. I am completely computer literate, but I’d never really heard of ask.fm until now – but there are so many things like this online now it is hard to keep up. Even on Bebo you could say stuff anonymously about your friends and kids think it’s all just a joke. Most kids hide their activities and minimise what their looking at so their parents cannot see. The gardaí have talked in the schools in our locality about online activities and the dangers, but very little showed up to the meeting. I was at on on my own for 15 minutes after it started, when three other parents showed up late, and this is a school of 200 pupils.
It seems parents are a lot to blame for not bothering to educate themselves on it. I have innocently told relations that their kids are on Facebook and they had no idea. I won’t be allowing my kids on any of these sites again, its bad enough trying to deal with the bullies you can see, how the hell do you deal with the ones you can’t?
(Image via Shutterstock/Monkey Business Images)
I was victim of bullying and it was of an anti-Semitic nature. It lasted on and off for about two years. I had a supportive family and friends to help me through it but my school, and in particular, the principal acted disgracefully inadequately. My tormentors were not dealt with in any effective manner and I had to continue to suffer even after the first two times I reported the abuse. Bullying in my particular school is an epidemic which is simply not dealt with. School authorities country-wide need to be held accountable.
It all began as I started secondary school in an all-girls school. I was so happy to be entering the next chapter in my life. As soon as I was put into my class I noticed ‘the cool girls’. This group consisted of approximately five girls. Straight away they would intimidate people, they always sat at the back of the classroom, laughed behind peoples backs, threw things at people, all of which was mostly ignored as we were all afraid of them.
As time went on I realised I had slowly but surely got friendly with these girls, who obviously were making everyone’s experience of secondary school hell. I began sitting with them, having lunch with them and even on the odd occasion, meeting outside school. I actually felt like I belonged, I felt like I must be cool if the ‘cool girls’ were letting me be in their gang.
The joy of finding new friends didn’t last long. Not long after I found myself being more of a slave than a friend. I would sometimes be ‘asked’ to go to the canteen and get all of their lunches, they obviously did not take into consideration I only had two hands, but of course I was too afraid to say no. They would laugh at things I’d say and totally belittle me. The bossiness turned more nasty as time went on. My mother would give me €2 per day as lunch money, which I was encouraged to give away to one of the girls in the group each day. She would say to me ‘you don’t smoke, why would you need it’ and hound me until I would hand my lunch money over.
I felt like I was brainwashed, these bullies who were making my life a misery and made me think they were my best friends. I would cry for hours at home and sometimes I’d go to the bathroom at lunch time and sit in a cubicle just to get away from it all. My mother would often ask me was I okay and did I need to talk about anything, but I would not say. I felt like I couldn’t say anything, it would all just get worse. I thought I needed to stay tough. I don’t think to this day they realise what they put me through.
At this stage I had lost all my decent friends who I knew for years through primary school. I felt like if I hung around with them or talked to them the bullying would get worse. My old friends hated me as I stood back and watched them be belittled by the gang. I now found myself to be a lonely 16-year-old with bullies as ‘friends’ and my grades had gone downhill. I was failing all my subjects and my parents would often ask what happened me, that I used to be so bright, but the truth was I just didn’t have the energy for school any more – I hated it. I didn’t care if I was failing, I just wanted to be liked.
A teacher said I wasn’t doing great in my geography class and suggested I stay back a year to catch up. At first I thought no way, how could I handle another year of this, but it soon dawned on me that was exactly what I needed. It was either this or move school. As I enrolled the following year I began doing so much better for myself. I was hanging around with different people and one by one the bullies began dropping out of school. That was it, I had been forgotten about by the gang and I had never been so happy to lose friends. My grades went up, I was more confident, I started dating people, socialising more and even went on to college, which would not have happened if I had stayed friends with these bullies.
I now live in the same town as these girls and I often bump into them. I say hi and walk on. They now call me a snob behind my back and say I’ve changed, but that’s something I’m so proud of myself. My advice to people getting bullied is get away from it, get as far away as possible, it will eat at you and lead to depression. Talk to whoever you can, I know I didn’t do it at the time, but I regret not talking to an adult and letting them get away with so much. It’s so important to share your pain. A few years of my life was taken away from me. I should have been experiencing secondary school but instead I experienced depression. And it’s not only you that can tell someone, please if you see this happening to someone don’t sit back and watch, do something about it.
All names have been changed for anonymity reasons. Over the next week TheJournal.ie will be highlighting other stories of bullying. More to follow…
If you have been effected by any of the issues mentioned and would like to talk to someone please call Console on the service’s 24-hour helpline at freephone 1800 201 890. People can also access the charity’s services by texting ‘HELP’ to 51444, or at its website: www.console.ie. The charity has full-time centres in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick and Wexford, and also offers services in other counties. If you are under 18, you can contact Childline Ireland by calling 1800 66 66 66 or texting 50101. They also have a live chat available on their website from 2pm-10pm every day. Its services are open to people of any age. Teenline can be contacted by calling 1800 833 634, seven days a week from 7pm-10pm.