For me, bullying started at the end of primary school and continued throughout high school. The bullying ranged from verbal name calling and rumors to having my things vandalized, and though very rare it did occasionally turn physical. I sometimes wonder if the social anxiety I experience now is not caused by or directly linked to my experiences in school.
I don’t believe I ever learned how to properly talk to people. I spent a lot of time when I was younger with my head down, sitting on the outside, trying to avoid trouble. Due to this I feel that some aspects of my social development were stunted and now I find it hard to connect with people and make friends because I never learned the necessary social skills while in school.
I didn’t ever fit into any particular group or place at school and I tended to float around trying to figure it all out. Bullying caused me not to trust people. The few friends I had I kept at arm’s length for fear of either doing or saying something wrong and pushing them away or becoming too close and having them hurt me as did happen a couple of times.
While some groups of students accepted me hanging around them I was never truly one of them. I was like a shadow that was always there but never fully included. I was a silent observer rather than a participant. I didn’t belong there as much as I desperately wanted to.
I refused to let teachers know what was happening because telling made it worse. It caused the things that were happening to be pushed underground and become more difficult to deal with. The bullying became more threatening and scary. Even if someone ‘thought’ I told on them there would be consequences. Usually in the form of the bullies friends grouping together to ‘defend’ their friend.
There were some teachers who I began to trust and would hover around during breaks and on school excursions. There were multiple reasons for this. Bullying was less likely to happen with a teacher in the facility and sometimes I secretly hoped someone would find out by accident without me having to say anything.
Not all teachers were good teachers though. Some indirectly encouraged the bullying. Whether they did this intentionally or not I’ll never know. I tended to sit by myself in class when I could. A couple of teachers took advantage of this and regularly moved the ‘naughty kids’ next to me. This especially bothered me when there were other places they could have moved them to. There were also another couple of instances where teachers would quite blatantly overlook things that were going on in class right in front of their eyes. I find it hard to believe that they didn’t notice some of the things that were happening.
I started self-harming at sixteen. It was a very confusing time and even now I still don’t know exactly what it was that lead me to do what I did. Perhaps I wanted attention. Perhaps it was a silent plea for help, though not a very effective one because I hid everything I did from the people around me. The people who might have actually been able to help. I was diagnosed with depression not long after leaving high school and kept this secret from the people around me as well.
It’s hard to deal with school bullies. No one has found the perfect solution yet and I’m not sure they ever will because as the world changes, so does the bullying. What some people don’t realize is that school bully’s affect a person long after school is over. What I experienced in school battered my confidence and my mental health. While that is not entirely the cause of my problems it is certainly a part of it. I sometimes wonder what life would be like now if I had had a different experience at school.
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