Bullying…A Note to Parents

#bullying #kryptonite for bullies

I had dinner with an old school friend the other night. When I say old school friend he was in my year but I don’t remember ever having a conversation with him at all. He was just there. At our reunion he told me his story. I don’t know why he told me. Perhaps it was a way of him explaining his weirdness at school. He told a story of a tragic death…child abuse at home…bullying at school…and one of the shittiest childhoods I think I have ever heard. And believe me as a psychotherapist I have heard a few.

He left school early. He went on to make a lot of money and to have several nervous breakdowns into the bargain. We didn’t talk to each other back in the day but we had one thing in common…we were both bullied. Some might say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I don’t believe that is the case. Bullying changes lives forever.

The time when I was being bullied at school was a very dark period in my life. I was bullied for being smart. My teachers without consulting me or without considering the impact on my classmates, thought that it would be a good idea if I moved classes. I was moved up by 4 grades. Since I was moved mid-term…my new classmates had already formed their alliances…so I was isolated and alone. Suddenly this inner city gal was learning Latin and highfalutin stuff that I couldn’t even pronounce let alone do. I was in over my head. My old classmates had taken my move personally. My smartness offended them. I was taunted mercilessly

“Who do you think you are” and “too good for us now eh”.

So every afternoon they’d wait for me after school. Every day I was filled with fear so much so that I didn’t want to go to school. I didn’t want to study and I didn’t want to be me.

The silence of the lamb

I’m sitting here trying to figure out why a big mouth like me didn’t speak up. Knowing me I probably did speak up but I think my voice fell must have fallen on deaf ears and the bully knows that this will happen. When you are chosen by a bully no one quite believes you. No one takes it seriously. Parents think and hope that its will blow over. Teachers write a policy, make an announcement at assembly and move on. Peers do not want to get involved in case they get targeted. The bully knows that no one will listen to the victim’s feeble cries. The only hope for the victim is that the bully grows tired of them and moves on to fresh meat or fall under a bus.

The bully is angry…spiteful…cowardly and jealous. Bullies are psychologically damaged and suffer from low self-esteem. Bullying is learnt behaviour. Bullies have been bullied and so they bully back. It’s their way of redressing the balance. Bullies feed off their victim’s vulnerability and pain. They recognise vulnerability, instability and pain in others because they too feel all of those things. In their warped mind they think that if they make their victim feel bad they will feel better. If they control their victim’s personality then they will feel powerful and in control.

No one truly gets over being bullied. It leaves a dent in the soul and changes the person forever. The victim suffers. They trust no one. They feel shame. They feel hounded and hunted. They think:

“Why me” “What am I doing wrong” “Why am I being singled out” “Why doesn’t anyone like me” All of this happens at a stage in our lives when the only thing we want is to be liked, feel as if we belong and accepted.

I believe that everyone is bullied at some point in their lives. Contrary to popular believe that bully doesn’t grow out of it. They just become more sophisticated and insidious or troll like about it. They go into lines of work were they can mess up people lives with impunity.

The kryptonite for bullying is high self-esteem. a) If you are reading this and you have children develop their self-esteem… so that they feel good about themselves… and so that they know who they are… and so that they are not at the mercy of what the bully thinks they are. Do not assume they have self-esteem because you have.

b) Teach them confidence so that they can speak up for themselves. Loudly. Repeatedly. c) Check in with them, but not to see what they are doing but to see how they feel about what they are doing. d) Listen to them and take whatever they saw seriously. e) Ultimately if you know that your child is being bullied do not send them to school until the school sorts the bully out. f) Protect your child.

So do you want to know what I did when my son came home one day with is shirt ripped and his nose busted and smeared with blood. I had a flashback moment. I went to the school and ask him to point out the child who had done damage to my precious boy. I took the boy aside. I told him words to this effect.

“When you bully my son… you bully me. When you upset my son… you upset me. If I am ever upset like this again …I will come down here and I will rip your head from oyur shoulders. I hope I have made myself clear.
You may say “that’s a bit harsh Bev”. Well no its not. You see I get to see the adults whose parents and teachers didn’t make a stand or fight for them when they were children in my therapy practice and that is what I call harsh.

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If you feel you could benefit from coaching, counselling, mentoring or training on any matter in your personal or professional life then book yourself in for your own personal and confidential session with me. Go to my website to find out more. Or to book directly go to Or if you want to get a feel for how I work… go to my You Tube The Coaching Channel

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