bullying: it happened to me.

* october is national anti-bullying month. *

this is a subject that dear hubby and i visit often now that we are parents. it’s in the news these days as a young girl in BC committed suicide recently, it’s on the agenda at the parent council meeting at bear’s school and it sits in the back of my mind as memories from my youth haunting me at times.

when i was a kid, we called it teasing.
when i was growing up in finland, i was never targeted, but at the age of 11 my parents and i moved to australia. my dad was working on a big project there and so we followed him down under. i was raised in a bilingual family, my mom has always spoken finnish, my dad english. but, i didn’t really know how to read or write in english when growing up in finland, but i my verbal skills were excellent. in australia, i was in grade six and i was such an outsider and targeted pretty heavily by my peers. the kids had no clue about finland and asked if we had lived in an igloo or had a tv. i spoke with an accent, had no idea that gumboots were rubber boots and was unaware of the cool way to roll my socks. the other kids laughed and taunted me for not knowing various swear words or sexual terms. i would go home in tears and eventually told my parents who went to the school. but, nothing really helped. then, in grade seven i switched schools and made a handful of good friends and the rest of my time on australia was a positive experience.

but then, we moved again. not back to finland, but to canada. so, again due to cultural differences i was targeted and bullied. this time, the kids were meaner and more aggressive, probably because we were older. one boy would even hit me in the head, all the time saying, “hey, you wanna cuff?” this time, i didn’t tell anyone, because i was older and way more insecure about everything (weren’t we all at 12/13 years). my body was changing; i was growing at a shocking rate going from the smallest kid in class to one of the tallest girls in a matter of a year! i was teased for the shoes i wore, for not wearing a bra and then one day for wearing a bra, for calling an eraser a rubber, which in canada is a condom!

it was hard. really hard. i made some good friends, but they were targeted as well for being smart, or for wearing their hair the wrong way or whatever. my self worth and esteem were low and once i hit high-school, i was on the fast train going downhill, fast and furious! i went from cute to not-so-cute! my look and attitude changed from smiles to angst, presented through ripped jeans, loud music and frightening behaviour, which i’m not going to get into here! 

i was scarred quite deeply from the years of teasing, taunting and bullying. i carry those scars today and although i like to think i have grown into a confident adult, when i hear about the kids today being bullied, my past comes rushing back to me. all the self loathing and feelings of loneliness come back to me in an instant, because my pain was very real. 
dear hubby doesn’t get it as he was never teased, which i think is pure luck, because kids around him, his friends were bullied.

here’s a quick look at my awkward years. yikes!

i survived, i think, because the cyber-internet-facebook-world didn’t exist back when i was a kid, so i got a break from the attacks. i went to ballet and those friends had no idea about what was happening at school. unfortunately, it is so different for kids today as they do not have that luxury of compartmentalizing their lives as easily. thanks to the internet their worlds come colliding together, whether they want it or not and the bullying in incessant. the internet also provides the attackers with a veil of anonymity and once something is out there is cyber space, it stays there! October is National Cybersecurity Awareness Month. It is to help raise awareness of cyber security and online attacks.



my eldest, my sweet bear has some of his own ideas about fashion as a four-and-a-half year old. he loves sparkly things and his rubber boots have pink hearts all over them. most would label his boots as being meant for girls and one day someone is going to say something cruel to him about them. his previous boots had flowers on them and some big kid at the library made a point about them. dude also has loves his red pants, his tights; he tells me his favourite colours are pink and yellow, which shouldn’t matter, but again, someone is going to tell him that boys should not like pink. 

i am so scared for him. i don’t want his naivete and wonder to be shattered by some bully telling him he’s not wearing the right clothes.
oh, boy.




xo, mama lola
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Comments

  1. says

    When I was at school (primary and secondary) I was very much the outsider for little more than having an interest in art and literature rather than other “cooler” things. My bullies followed me from one school to the other (in a small town it’s expected).

    The teachers said they couldn’t do anything because the bullies had difficult home lives, they let them attack me and others when they should have protected us.

    One day I’d taken all I could of the beatings and the teasing that when one of the lads hit me in the face, I lunged at him. I kicked the hell out of him infront of the others.

    I was the one who was punished. I was the one in detention because my home life was “stable”. But the bullying eased up. I’m not proud of the way I reacted…but when you have no one other than yourself, there is little choice but to fight back.

    • says

      oh my, what a story loki-lou! and i agree, when pushed and cornered it’s human nature to react in self-defence. allowing others to bully you, because they came from difficult homes, sounds extremely unfair and lazy on the part of the teachers. thanks for sharing and for coming by.

  2. says

    I was bullied really badly when I was in primary and secondary school here in Australia. I’m sorry that you were bullied here, kids can be so cruel sometimes 🙁 bullying cuts deeply and leaves it’s mark on all of us who have been bullied (hugs!). My mum had no idea what was really happening to me/no idea how to handle it. I ended up losing half of my hair because of the stress I was under, and she still didn’t get it/do anything. More than anything, I just wish that my mum could have sat me down and talked to me about it, and tried to relate to me and understand and do something about it! I know that when I have kids I will be able to help them far much more than my mum helped me, and if the time ever comes for bear (and I hope it doesn’t) I think you will know exactly what to do 🙂 Bullying is a terrible thing to have to go through, but I think in the long run it makes most of us stronger, kinder and far more compassionate to others for having gone through it

    • says

      hey lecinda, thanks so much for sharing your experiences. sorry your mum didn’t understand, my folks didn’t either. they kept saying ‘chin up’… and i sure you’re hope about the last part of your comment, that we are more compassionate because we were bullied.
      🙂

  3. says

    As a parent it must be so worrisome what goes on out there. My husband and his family moved from Europe when he was young and he says the ‘teasing’ was relentless. I am glad to have been brought up in a neighbourhood where there were so many kids from all around the world, so bullying wasn’t as much an issue based on race or accents, but man, I remember some mean girls that just seemed to bully randomly. Thankfully they mostly left me alone, but I was still terrified of them.

    • says

      the irony here is loulou, i spent my tweens and teens right there in toronto, one of the most multicultural places in the world! my class had kids from every corner of the planet, but still, i was targeted. as were others.

      and you’re right, bullies are scary folk! thanks for stopping by!

  4. says

    Other kids can be so mean and that is the biggest fear I had in sending my kids to school. I feared they would suffer as I had. It was considered teasing when I went to school too. I was never so glad to wipe the dust from that place from my shoes. I never looked back really. I am so glad you survived and lived to tell the tale.

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

  5. says

    I am sorry you had such horrible experiences. (You were adorable in those pics… We all have similar ones, I have some fun ones of me from those years. I was teased at times, but nothing as bad as your experiences. I agree that nowadays the use of cyberspace makes these situations worse because of the anonymity. I am an adult, but words and mean comments hurt me. I have only had one person on my blog who wrote hateful mean things. I can’t imagine being a child and having to deal with taunts from bullies online too. Horrible.

    • says

      i have yet to receive a mean or hurtful comment here on my blog. i know my turn is coming; i just hope i can be a duck in rain and let what other’s think roll off of my back. thanks for sharing and stopping by, winnie.

  6. says

    I never really paid attention to the feeling of fear I had about my kids being teased one day until reading your post. I think it’s good to acknowledge the potential and talk about it at home. We didn’t focus much on my being teased for being too lanky, too uncoordinated, too shy. Not that it matters much now in my daily life, but I think “scars” is the perfect term for what long-term bullying does to kids. I wonder how parents can ameliorate the negativity that abounds in the internet age. Scary. Thanks for sharing.

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