Bullying: Every day I ran the gauntlet
The faces of bullying in NZ
Contrary to what is often portrayed in the media, there is no such thing as a single school bully.
There is usually a pack of them, or in my experience, an entire school.
I was the usual skinny boy with thick glasses and the misfortune of living emotionally close to the surface.
After years of casual taunts and jibes in primary and intermediate school, from girls and boys alike, the bullying really kicked into high gear during my third and fourth form years at college.
What followed was not so much bullying as an attempt to eradicate someone's life.
Every day I would run the gauntlet of jabs, punches, jeers, jibes and abuse.
It was non-stop, without a break.
Teachers would often join in, and when my parents got involved they were informed that bullying was part of the curriculum at my school and if they didn't like it, they were free to withdraw me, which they eventually did.
As you may imagine, this instilled within me a nice, healthy, life-long respect for authority.
The bullying eventually peaked in an incident in my final year where a student I thought of as a friend set me up by leading me to the top of a fire escape.
I didn't know that he had already gone around telling everyone and anyone that I was going to kill myself.
He had arranged for half the school to turn up and shout "jump, jump JUMP!"
This went on for about an hour until I managed to push my way through the crowd and call my parents to get home.
As mentioned before, I eventually left for another school where things improved somewhat, at least as far as the bullying went.
Academically it didn't, and eventually I got expelled in my seventh form year for continuously not turning up to classes.
But that was all me. I guess I can't blame everything on the bullying.
My high school years were a mixture of betrayal, abuse, disappointment, failure and neglect.
My grades suffered. I developed life-long problems with anxiety and remain on medication to this day.
But here's the thing. Success is the best form of recovery. It will silence them all, I promise.
In my late 20s everything shaped up. I went to university, got an honours degree, and pursued my musical ambitions, and continue to do so.
Despite my day-to-day problems, I have a loving wife and a great career in an education environment.
I am also a talented musician, have a life-long interest in weight training and the martial arts (go figure!), and I eventually even managed to get contact lenses.
I get through all the negatives of my childhood by accepting that certain things happened, and also by accepting that occasionally I still have to deal with them.
To all bullied children all I can say is one day it will stop. You will reclaim all your lost confidence and self-belief, but you will need some help along the way.
To the bullies, you know who you are.
Eat my dust.
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