"There have always been bullies in every walk of life. It matters not whether you be black or white, male or female, rich or poor, fat or thin, child or adult, most of us will encounter someone who will try to pull us down and belittle us; either physically or in the estimation of others!
When I was a young boy growing up in the late 1940's and early 1950's, I once arrived home with a black eye that a boy three years older and much bigger in size had given me for the weekend. Seeing my shiner, my father (adopting his traditional John Wayne stance) asked, 'Did you stand your ground and fight back?' I answered indignantly, 'Of course I did, dad, but he was bigger than me, and three years older!'
I do not say that children are more placid in their response today, as I know that the level of abuse and violence one person is prepared to inflict upon another is more aggressive and brutally violent than it has ever been. There was however, an expectation within the working classes of the 1940's and 1950's that you never took anything lying down and without protest, physical or otherwise. Sadly today, the world is predominantly made up of two types of person. The first type requires no excuse to demonstrate aggression and is too willing to inflict injury on another for seemingly no reason at all. The second type is the ordinary man or woman who will see injury inflicted on innocent others and will walk on by without trying to intervene as though in denial of the hurt that is being caused. They are understandably ruled by fear and know that if they intervene, they too will be hurt and could even end up dead!
And yet, I know deep down that the only way to deal with bullying is 'to stand one's ground', however anxious, difficult and dangerous that course of action may prove to be. The first thing to understand is that 'standing up' doesn't mean resorting to fisticuffs, as that is often not the best way of fighting back. Sometimes 'standing up for oneself' will mean 'shouting out', 'telling another' and 'asking for help.' Whatever the bullied person does, 'staying quiet' and suffering in silence will only increase the likelihood of being bullied again and again; not eliminate it!
This was the message that I frequently gave children in their school assemblies between 1990 and 2005. Only by standing up to the bully will they stop bullying you. I would advise bullied children to tell their parents, teachers or any responsible adult they trusted. I would remind all spectators of any bullying that it's their presence which provides the bully with the audience they need which indirectly encourages the bullying to continue. Without an audience, the bully has their greatest satisfaction removed from the equation. Consequently, the audience can never be innocent in the spectacle and are as complicit as the bully inflicting the injuries.
My advice would be similar to any adult in an abusive relationship; to firstly get yourself out of the abusive situation safely if possible and seek the assistance of trusted others. One way or another, you will need to stand your ground.
I recall one cheeky young boy aged nine who took my advice on board. When I next visited his school, he approached me adopting a very cocky stance and proudly said, 'Thanks for that advice, Mr Forde. It worked a treat. After standing up to my mum and dad, standing up to the rest of the world was easy!'
As a probation officer for twenty-five years, I worked with people who'd been bullied at school and who'd remained 'victimised' ever since; often into adulthood and middle age. Some had been physically hurt, others psychologically wounded, yet all had been emotionally traumatised. The most long-term hurt however, and by far the worse, was surprisingly the name calling and the verbal abuse a child might experience. Paradoxically, it is far better to have one's nose, arm or leg broken by a bully than to have to injure verbal abuse and constant name calling. Whereas body bones mend much quicker, the effects of the verbal taunts can last a lifetime!
For any parent out there whose son or daughter is being bullied at school, you could do worse than buy them one of two books of mine which deal with the theme of 'bullying.' The first is called 'Fighter' and is about a boy with stunted growth. The story is about boxing and football and developing team spirit. The second book is called 'Tales of Bernard' and is about a pack of bullying stray pedigree dogs who run roughshod over a town. This book is suitable for girls or boys, child or adult. As with all my books, the standard of production is high, the costs are kept minimal and all profit is given to charitable causes in perpetuity. The books are in e-book format from www.smashwords.com or in hard copy from www.amazon.com and www.lulu.com.
Whether you buy my book or not, if you are someone who is being bullied, make today the day that you stand up for yourself and start fighting back!" William Forde: October 23rd, 2017.