Sharing a first hand account of Bullying by High School student Arunima herself.
We’ve grown up watching mean bullies on screen, from Cartoon Network to mainstream Hollywood and primetime TV. Their characters are undeniably entertaining, be it Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid, Regina George in Mean Girls, or Ben Affleck’s Fred O’Bannion in Dazed and Confused. Heck, we even have a great example closer to home — Kareena Kapoor’s Poo from Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham.
But how much of the bully trope is exaggeration and how much is true reflection?
Let’s Talk Numbers
Believe it or not, bullying is extremely prevalent in Indian schools, and unfortunately goes unaddressed most of the time.
According to a survey conducted by the Indian Journal of Paediatrics, 31.4% out of 500 children reported being bullied. Unfortunately, only 24% of them shared their grief with their parents.
We’re not just talking about physical bullying here — verbal, emotional and cyber-bullying are just as harmful. While only 16% of students from the IJP survey reported physical harm, a much higher number admitted to being teased, called names, and feeling threatened and isolated.
Let’s Talk Impact
In theory, I’m sure we all agree that being bullied — especially in your formative years — can do some serious damage. Because unlike Lindsay Lohan’s Mean Girls character, you don’t get to make amends with your Regina George and move on with your life. For us real humans, coping with the after-effects of bullying can be a real, life-long struggle.
What does the struggle look like?
Let me take you through my personal experience with bullying.
Welcome To High School
It was the 5th of April
I didn’t know what I was getting into
They said, “You’re gonna miss it when it ends. You’re always gonna remember it”
But I’m gonna tell you the truth
Welcome to High School
Where everything feels like a carnival at first
First week, first class, first look of disgust
Shot by the prettiest girl in class
She looked at me like my existence polluted her vision
My face repulsed her, and
The stretch marks on my legs made her cringe
So, I smiled at her out of embarrassment
And guilt that I couldn’t comprehend
Welcome to the real life party of Regina George
Where the entire class was driven to please her
But oh, on Wednesdays we didn’t wear pink
Instead, everyday she wore condescension as her backpack
And I wore apprehension as a cape
Week two, there were two of them
Two minds that worked as one
Two hands that reached out from the desk behind me
“We like your hair”
I smiled, confused.
Welcome to the class for no weak where hush hush, the whisper I could hear
They liked the idea of something
Something I couldn’t fathom
Giggle, gasp “Yes!” I overheard
And so that pair of hands, five minutes later
Gave me a lock of my own hair
And a pair of scissors
Week three, now there were three; a boy this time
He sat next to me and I saw a friend in him
He asked me about the new backpack I’d bought,
“Why is he even interested?”
And so the three of them together
Picked that bag up and took it away
I later found it in a urinal,
on the third floor boys’ toilet
Welcome to the room for no weak
Where week after week you try to recollect the pieces
Of your broken self esteem
Week four, I realised I had four years more,
But I wasn’t ready to take four minutes of this anymore
And so I taught myself four important words
“I’m not their expectation”
Welcome to the lost circus
Where the clowns and the acrobats go all out steal the crowd
But you being the lion, you stand out
Resilient, I feel like I destroyed my own catastrophe
I destroyed the spiteful actions you threw at me
High school, I’m never gonna miss it
But I’m always going to remember it
Let’s Talk Change
There are two parts to tackling the bullying problem.
The first is attitudinal. We need to accept that bullying is a serious problem, and not just a part of growing up.
The other is actionable.
If you’re being bullied: don’t be afraid to speak to an authority figure — your parents, teachers or school counsellor about it. Trust me, you are not alone. Reach out to your friends and family for support.
If you’re guilty of bullying: it’s never too late to start being empathetic. Know when you are hurting someone with your words or actions, and try to put yourself in their shoes.
If you’re a bystander: know that your voice can actually help save someone from being bullied. Whether you are the parent, teacher, family member, friend, peer or even a stranger to either party, you have a responsibility to speak up.
Let’s make a pact to be more compassionate, shall we?
By Arunima taken from The Timeliners.