27 Mar 2009

That thing called bullying

Over on twitter a lot more Charities are getting involved with this social networking lark and doing a great job of it. Today I wanted to mention BullyingUK, as they released the widget that you can see above these ramblings. As children become more and more internet aware, so must the charities that want to reach out to them. The site has a whole range of advice and support for Children, Parents and Carers.This is not half hearted advice and info, its up to the minute stuff and well worth a read.

I am now the grand old age of 27 and I wish some of the things around now where about when I was a kid. I was never physically hit or abused verbally that much, on the whole I was just ignored. I was that tall, pale gangly looking kid that probably looked a bit messy. I remember some kids from the year above me, in Junior School, took a particular dislike to me and once brought toothpaste in for me, saying that my breath smelt. I remembering looking round thinking someone would stick up for me, but nope, no one did. The friends that I did have then just pretended it never happened. Did I go home and tell my parents what had happened? No.Did I tell anyone what had happened? No.

I have delved into the diary of 11 year old me lately for part of a college project, so I will be writing more about being that kid and what advice I would give to her. Here is a wee glimpse at what I have scanned so far:

You may have a wonderful relationship with your child, but they just might not be able to tell you how they are feeling, so its sites like Bullying UK that can help to bridge that gap.

So follow BullyingUK on Twiiter for the latest snippets on Anti-Bullying!
Also follow Unite Aginst Bullying on Twitter for Worldwide support.


  1. What a brilliant initiative. I wish they had been around when I was younger too, my school days don't bear repeating. :(

    Well done for flagging this one up :)


  2. I relate - I had to wear a bra in the 5th grade and the boys teased the crap outta me. No one ever stood up for me. It's hell to develop early...
    I think this is a terrific place for kids to go and understand they are NOT alone!

  3. I had one instance of bullying at school. I'd moved to a new school midway through a term so didn't know anyone and ended up hanging around with two Bangladeshi brothers who were pretty much ignored or taunted by the other kids. As a result I was called names a bit (typical racist kid thing) and that culminated one day with the main bully grabbing me around the neck from behind while a group watched. I leaned forward so I was supporting him and then ran backwards slamming his back him onto the corner of a building. He slid to the floor and then stood up and told me I was all right. After that both I and the two brothers were then invited to play football with the rest of the year during breaks. So the moral of the story is: try to shatter the spines of bullies and they will respect you.

  4. I have seen the site before and it is a great site. There isn't enough being done here in the usa as far as I'm concerned. My daughter suffered terribly and not only was the school blatantly disinterested, they went to a great deal of trouble to make me feel like it was lack of parenting and a troubled kid that was the problem.

    Unfortunately Mark your method was useless in my daughters situation. And really the bottom line is that a child should not have to be the one responsible to resolve the issue of bullying in a school setting. It is something society and institutions should state is not acceptable and deal with.

    Just my humble opinion

  5. I note on the next page the entry "Mum in hospital". So you were 11, feeling put upon, and lacking a mother in residence all at the same time making you somewhat alone in the world. Glad you made it through to be a healthy young woman.

  6. Hi Claire, Thanks for your post. I found it through Bullying UK mentioning your post on twitter. I can relate to what you are saying.
    This is why I have written a children's book to help encourage children (8-12 year olds) to tell someone that they are being bullied, which I am launching on the 3rd April.
    I have spoken with quite a lot of people about this and many adults have said to me, wish there was something like this when I was younger.
    Bullying Uk is a fantastic charity! I am so pleased to have met them and connect with them and try to promote their work as much as possible.
    The new click, create, print software is great and their flickr site tells a million stories, that ordinarily might not be told. Sometimes it's easier to say whats going on in your life through creativity when finding the right words is so hard.

    Thanks for sharing your story Claire. I was bullied through primary, junior and secondary verbally & physically and don't want anyone to go through that, I became a school phobic.Even though I have moved on and 'healed' in many areas the effects are far long reaching than many people realise.
    Many parents I have spoken with say that as they were bullied, they are concerned what it may happen to their children. It's still a very difficult discussion that many people don't like having.

    I hope you don't mind me mentioning my book.
    If anyone is interested you can find me on twitter as @percythepigeon I am supporting bullying UK with 50p from every book going to their fantastic charity. I really hope that it will make some difference. I am working at getting it into as many schools libraries as I can.

    I really appreciate your post Claire and wish you all the best!

  7. Hi thanks for this I will add to my blog and twitter it.

    I didnt suffer at all from bulling as a kid! but it is not always kids that get bullied. I would as a counsellor with young adults that have suffered bulling in early life and it still happens to them in thier work place.

    I am not going to make a comment which maybe a bit difficult to hear for someone who has been bullied and keeps getting bulliede in later life.

    " what part do they play in allowing themselves to be bullied?" I have used this with many clients and they get a chance to look at themselves rather than blaming the bully for the way they feel.

    Good luck with all your college work.

  8. cove counselling - I don't feel that question is particularly helpful. By asking a victim of bullying the question 'what part do they play in allowing themselves to be bullied'means that you are more likely to perpetuate the false perception that they are to blame for the abuse that they have suffered.

    An extreme but relevant parallel would be to ask yourself if you would ask that question of a rape victim or anyone who has suffered at the hands of another injustice.

    That is not to say that I do not believe that bullies themselves should not be helped. I think they do need help - this is vital! as many childhood bullies who aren't helped carry on their negative behaviour into adulthood. However having worked with many victims of bullying the premise established by your asking that question in my view has serious implications for reinforcing low self esteem in those who have been bullied.

    It's a very complicated issue and I do feel that there needs far greater support and understanding for helping people who are being bullied with for example their body language, as naturally once you have suffered bullying, it is natural to try and protect yourself (not wanting to create any unwanted attention.) Helping those who are being bullied, or have been, to know their true worth, giving them the tools to not take on board the negative impact of the bullies actions.

    People may disagree with me. I just feel that this very sensitive subject needs to be looked at from all angles.

    Hope you don't mind me adding comment Claire :0)

  9. I was bullied as a child. My parents told me that that was their way to say they liked me. Well, if that was like I wanted no part of it. And it didn't go away after I was told to ignore it.

    Parents: that is the wrong advice to give kids. I felt trapped and didn't have anyone who validated what I went through. Felt helpless, which led to depression.

  10. @Rachel, hey Rachel thanks for commenting. I thought it was a great initiative and another cool thing about twitter. I love that fact it brings a whole mish mash of people together. Yep I certainly wouldn't repeat my school days either or travel back in time and change anything. I would like to think that school will become a thing that every kid enjoys and not endures.

    @Amazing Gracie, that must of been very difficult indeed for you. In each and everyone's story there is always a lack of a got to person. Where were they all?

    @Mark, Survival of the fittest. Do you think that it some ways it is easier when a show of force is all it takes? Not sure what would happen these day, especially with knife crime on the up.

    @JafaBrits, Hey Jafa. I think your right that the buck gets passed onto the parents a lot and they are ones left helpless. I think with boy's it is sometimes just a show of strength/king of the playground kind of thing, that is sorted easily with some rough and tumble. The bullying goes no further than that. When its more complicated, that is when its harder to deal with and gets left. Your 100% right that the school's should be very firm on what is and is not acceptable, its not that bloody hard.

    Your humble opinion is always welcome here :)

    @Jamie, well spotted, yep 'mum is in hospital' is on almost every single page of that diary. I felt very very alone at that time in my life. That is why its important to highlight things like this when you have the opportunity.

    @Anita, I had already discovered Percy on twitter not long before I wrote this post, it is an absolutely wonderful book that every school should in abundance. Talking about bullying in school should not be something that schools talk about very once in a while, they should check in with the kids constantly and not let things fester. The dialogue between parents, children, teachers and carers should always be kept open. I will mention the book in my next post :)

    @cove counselling, The things about blog posts is the ability to agree and disagree with what people say. In this case I will be disagreeing with you. While I accept that in the work place there is a lot more that you can do for yourself when being bullied, even though it is not ever acceptable to be treated that way. I think Anita made some great points on this subject and pick an interesting parallel indeed. I don't think anyone allows themselves to be bullied, I think that sometimes they struggle to know what to do about it. Whether that stems from childhood bullying or not.

    @Anita, wow excellent points!

    @Lois, Parents get it wrong, sometimes very wrong. I think your advice is excellent, I wish someone had been around to really hear you.

  11. wow, that is a horrendous question, what a way to put it cove. I think a better question cove counseling rather than "what part do they play in allowing themselves to be bullied?"


    "what do you think they could have done differently to help empower and protect themselves from bullies."

    Your question comes across as laying the blame on the victim rather than asking them to think through ways in which a victim can respond and protect themselves.

    maybe it wasn't intended that way, but that is more or less the attitude of the school I had to deal with and frankly I saw it as a cop out by the school. It was a way of shifting responsibility from themselves, and absolving the bullies from facing responsibility.

  12. Well done on bringing this up, Claire. I was a victim, ass I'm sure many were.

  13. @Jafa's, my reaction was the same as yours, but on repeating the question to one of my counselling student buddies they seem to get where he was coming from. Maybe its just counselling speak gone wrong in this case.

    I think, as ever, this proves how powerful language is and how dangerous it can be to phrase something badly.

    In the old saying:

    "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

    Well if your already feeling low and alone, those nasty words will hurt indeed and stick with you.

    If the person that you went to for help, suggested that somehow you were allowing this, that would not help at all. In fact I would feel even worse and question myself even more.

    Loved your version of the question,Your good at this advice malarkey :)

    The school thing must of been frustrating and horrible for you! I am not sure why some teachers find it so difficult to tackle bullying? They may not be able to monitor the kids outside of school, but during school time they should constantly keep an eye out for bullying behaviour.

    @Jean-Luc, Every little bit help :)

  14. "Your good at this advice malarkey :)"

    thanks claire, I would say 6 years of monthly workshops/working as a suicide crisis counselor and personal experiences has had an impact in that regard.
    "The school thing must of been frustrating and horrible for you!"
    We moved as soon as a new job came up and she went to a school that had zero tolerance when it came to bullies.

    ""sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."

    Yea, right! I agree with you. I loath that stupid expression. Again it seems to absolve the person using words to demean and dehumanize others. I feel it invalidates other people’s feelings and either suggests indifference, or an ignorance of the power of language, or an unwillingness to address it, or they agree with it, or they feel powerless to help.I did an art piece related to that phrase:

    Again though just my humble opinion

  15. I can relate to what you've mentioned here. I was picked on from 2nd grade, all the way to my sophmore year in high school. But I honestly couldn't imagine you, Claire, ever being picked on!! You are such a beautiful person inside and out! Then again, you're always camera shy, and I guess that's simillar to my bullying, that made me have low self-esteem that I have yet to kick....

  16. Elder son was terribly bullied at school. The teachers were absolutely hopeless and didn't address the problem at all. One turned round to me and said he thought it nearly always stemmed from home and asked if our marriage was in trouble. Talk about passing the buck. The trouble is, parents feel helpless too, when faced with remarks like that. That was a long time ago, so I hope things have improved.

  17. @Jaf, I keep replying to you in the many different Jafa, jaffy, Jaffa cake versions even though I know your called Corrine. For some reason it amuses me :)

    This counselling diploma has impacted me in more ways that I thought and I often don't write as much as I would like to in replies because I am now over-sensitive about upsetting anyone, well unless they really annoy me :)

    Loved your post and painting, I found it quite upsetting! At first I thought he was smiling because he knew what was happening and was glad it was all going to be over, which was bad enough, but then to realise it symbolised his innocence and joy that wasn't tainted by this horrible world was very powerful! Hence why you are such an awesometriffic artist. It was never his fault that the world is such a horrid place at times.

    @Erik, Quit it with the compliments young man :) School was a horrid time for me and to be truthful I was at times rather horrible myself. I have very low self esteem at times and it takes a massive effort to kick myself up the arse, if you know what I mean. I would never of picked you as someone with low self esteem at all, what with your job, travelling over here and all that :)

    @A. I wish I could say that it has improved but I think parents have to take an even more active role in the day to day school life of their kids. I know more than one close friend that has had an awful time trying to get help for their kids in school. Things will get better though, I bloody well hope so anyways.

  18. I don't mind you calling me jaf, jaffy or jafo or whatever clairo ;)
    I don't feel awesome of late as an artist, but I will accept the compliment and say thank you :) I shall now buzz orf and resume attempts at regaining artistic awesomeness.

    ps. that feeling of worrying about upsetting others will disappear, besides I think you already have a good way with words and approaching difficult subjects. If you do upset someone it is a valuable learning experience and an opportunity to let that someone teach you how to say it better.

    have a great day as they say here is the usa, but from moi the geordie lass, ta ra pet.

  19. Like you, I am so glad there is some attention given to bullying. I don't care how kids get the message. How the kids at school found out I was adopted, I don't know, but I was called Orphan Annie and severely rejected all during elementary school. Did I tell my parents? No.

    Interesting blog - will follow.