Bullying, the next installment:

(*Read installment #1 here: To Hell & Back: Bullying at Primary School)

Grade Seven was the worst experience of my childhood.

When we moved to small-town, rural Nova Scotia we were looking forward to being closer to “home” so-to-speak. Being a “Forces’ kid”, there really was no one place we called home. Given that my parents were both also Forces’ kids this was even more true. However, my parents felt called to Nova Scotia, where my mom’s parents both grew up and retired from the Forces life.

This was to be a homecoming of sorts. I was starting school at a junior high school that was a consolidation of multiple elementary schools, grade seven being the entry year. Everyone had their cliques from their old schools and everyone was new in some way. Everyone was trying to find their place in the hierarchy of middle school. I was the NEW kid, the come-from-away kid. I was also up to 14 months younger than many of my classmates.

In fact my school principal almost refused to enroll me solely based on my age, and the fact that the curriculum was probably very “different” (read: inferior) in the north. He wanted me, a straight A, ahead-of-the-class student to repeat a year! My mom made a deal with the school to give me a chance to prove myself for a few months then re-evaluate after report cards. (As it turned out, we never needed to have that re-assessment meeting and I in fact graduated from middle school on the honour roll, thank-you-very-much!).

I had a wardrobe of hand-me-downs that were acquired in the isolated community of Inuvik where no one had the latest of anything. I was the tallest in my class and I was smart. I became the target.

A girl who must have once ruled her small elementary school became my antagonist from just about day one. She rallied all of her little clique and the entire group of them singled me out. I was made fun of for the way I dressed, spoke, walked, even the way I applied ketchup to my french fries… The girl was relentless and her friends became equally as intimidating. Only once can I recall things getting physical, when her friend cornered me in a washroom and tried to push me around. Yet, this was truly the most trying time of my childhood.

I don’t recall addressing this with any adult. Not my mom, not a teacher, no one. My past experience with bullying taught me that no one would do anything about it, but the bullying itself would get worse. I do recall sticking closer to my new group of like-minded equally “nerdy” friends. We joined band, we studied together, and we treated one another with respect.

Towards the end of the year, my antagonist had a falling out with her cousin, with whom I had a friendship. She suddenly tried to befriend me and turn me against her cousin. I let it be known that I had no interest, and from that day forward treated her and her friends with apathy for the most part. The bullying stopped, the attempts to befriend me continued, until eventually it was forgotten.

Once we moved on to high school and had yet another new and larger school to navigate it was mostly as if history had been erased. My antagonist eventually became someone I was friendly with, we shared classes and extra-curricular groups and I let go of the pain I’d been caused. However, I never forgot how it felt, nor did I ever let my guard down with this new “friend”.

Bullying takes many forms. As adults we need to be attentive and responsive to children’s needs or they stop reaching out for help when needed.

My daughter has been subject to bullying, and I hope that I have responded in a manner that has helped her to grow and not be victimized again. The effects of bullying are so far-reaching and can have much serious consequences than my own experiences. Communities (in all forms) must take this seriously and talk about it openly, so that our children will know it is unacceptable and will feel comfortable asking for help.

If you have a story you feel comfortable sharing please do. You just never know who might be listening.

About Trish

family legacy curator, social justice advocate, blogger, amateur photographer, reader, cyclist, runner & swimmer, mom of two

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Bicycle Boy
Bicycle Boy
11 years ago

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/3/18/

I myself was bullied a lot in grade school, most likely because I was the second-smallest in the entire grade (second only to the kid with a hole in his heart). In Grade 9, my best friend was fully 15cm taller than me. I now stand about 10cm taller than him! I really was a late-bloomer, I guess. I look back now, and realize that even then I was a stubborn kid who would stand up to bullies and still get his ass handed to him. I’m sure there are still lockers with dents in them caused by my body’s unintentional redirection into their doors.

At least now I’m big enough to at least pretend to be intimidating when I’m standing up for another victim.