Last week we heard a heart-wrenching story from Nicole at The mum reviews . This week we have the wonderful Vikki from Family Travel with Ellie which is actually about her son. If you want to get involved in our #Bullieswontwin campaign then please get in touch via the contact us page.
Please could you introduce your son and tell us a little bit about him
Petrolhead A first started being bullied at school when he was 7 years old. A group of boys, mostly older, targeted him and made his life as miserable as they could. He is naturally intimidated by other children and making friends is something that he finds difficult. He is very shy around people he doesn’t but this can come across as him being aloof to other children. He was struggling to make friends and fit in at school, which caused his anxiety to soar and the tics to get very bad. ( face twitching, blinking, finger chewing etc). The bullies made fun of him terribly, calling him names and saying vicious things.
I tried to deal with the issue with the school from the moment it started. Sadly, the school let my son down dreadfully by not stepping up and dealing with the issues that were going on right in front of them on a daily basis.
There was no excuse for their inability to deal with the bullies, it was a tiny village school with small class number etc.
Petrolhead A was bullied mercilessly. He would hide in the toilets at break so he wouldn’t have to go outside. He was laughed at, teased, mimicked, sworn at , threatened and isolated. Finally, one day, he was pushed to the ground, and then a large bully sat on his chest until he couldn’t breathe. Luckily , a teacher intervened. This was of course the final straw for us. I had tried so hard to deal with it all in the best way for my son, i wanted him to try to work through it rather than teaching him that running away from his problems was a valid solution. I wanted to support him through it so he came out the other side stronger. But, the school were utterly useless and I no longer felt they could keep him safe and so he never went back there.
He has grown so much since then. Hes still wonderful . And sensitive and an over thinker. And, mean kids still like to target him. But he is learning to ignore them and not give them the reaction that they so seem to crave. This way, he has realised they do get bored and leave him alone. His tics have almost disappeared for now.
Can you remember how it made him feel at the time?
At home, he would get very angry, often lash out at us. This would then lead onto sobbing and questions that are heartbreaking to hear your child ask you.
“Why don’t they like me, Mummy”
“Why am I weird ”
“I hate myself”
“I wish i was different”
“I have no friends, no one likes me”
He felt trapped in a place where he felt isolated by everyone, victimized, hated. They made him feel like he didn’t fit in. Like he was strange. He believed completely, that it was him with the problem. It was our job to show him that that was not the case at all.
How has bullying affected him in his life and how he is as a person?
Petrolhead A has grown so much as a person since going through this. But, the experiences he had and the way the school dealt with it has without question left damage.
He hates to be around children he doesn’t know. Adults he’s completely at ease with, but children scare him. He clearly expects them to judge and taunt him. For example if he is at a park playing with his sister and other children come over to join in, he will make a sharp exit from the game and come and sit with me. He is scared of what people think of him.
He lacks confidence in himself and has huge dislike for his anxiety and tics. They make him feel very angry.
If he could change anything about his experience what would it be? What would he do differently?
When I asked Petrolhead A this question he said if we turned back the clock and he had to go through it all over again he would punch the bullies straight on the nose.
I no this isn’t true at all, i know that Petrolhead A is far to gentle to ever be that person, but i keep those feelings completely to myself, i love that he feels he could take those bullies on if he had to now. Judge me if you will, but i congratulate him on this answer, for the courage he imagines he could have if clocks turned back.
As his parent, if i had to the time again i would have given the school 3 chances to deal with the situation correctly and then i would have moved him. Instead of going in every day for months and months to have pointless discussions with the head master and teaching staff.
If he could give one piece of advice to somebody who is going through bullying now what would it be?
Petrolhead A says his advice would be to tell someone you trust about it straight away. To try to remember that the people being mean are the ones with the problems, not you. And that it will get better – you have to believe in yourself.
My advice to other parents would be simple – don’t be fobbed off by the school. Trust your instincts – if any problems you are having aren’t being dealt with to your satisfaction then don’t accept it. Don’t worry about making a fuss, or making it worse. It can’t be any worse for your child right now, if they are being demoralized, picked on and made to hate themselves.
Also, our job is to build him up. Make sure he knows and believes how wonderful and special he is.