Bullying, according to Wikipedia’s definition is – the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual.
I can still recall several incidents of being bullied particularly when I was in the boarding school; it was customary, almost like a rite of passage for junior students to get bullied by their seniors (by the way, it wasn’t called bullying in my days, it was called fagging, now fagging I hear has assumed a new meaning but we won’t talk about that today.)
Some of our senior students then were so mean, they even had an audience you should see them cackling like hyenas whenever they see a junior crumple under the weight of their hate.
Many junior students suffered depression and failed miserably at school work because of the pain they endured in the hands of these bullies.
I remember one incident at school, a junior student stood up to our seniors and got the beating of her life but guess what? Going forward, all the bullies let her be. They made snide remarks at her expense but none dared to fag her. Na so, o.
Same thing happened to my 12-year-old cousin, Rukewe, he stood up to the seniors over the bullying of a fellow junior student. But sha o, by the time Rukewe’s seniors finished kicking and knocking him to the ground, hehnn, he sabi himsef with swollen eyes and a bloodied nose but the good part is, seniors steered clear of lil coz afterwards. For me, Ruky won!
The slim victory over bullies may sometimes be bloody but many times, it takes years for victims to get over the assault and actually forgive their bullies. Many victims have attributed their lack of self-confidence later on in life as a result of being bullied at school.
It took me several years after school to realise bullies mostly don’t know better. Many of them bullied simply because they too were bullied when they were in junior classes and so in their small minds, they figured, “that’s the way to do it, keep the tradition going.”
Years later at one particular alumni meet, a good number of our seniors who had bullied us in school apologised for their meanness when they were confronted by their ‘juniors’. Many of us got closure that day, though some of the bullies claimed they weren’t even aware they were that mean. I believe them without excusing their bad behaviour.
Bullies were once thought to be small-minded, insecure and angry people; recent research says, “Most bullies have almost ridiculously high levels of self-esteem… they are viewed by their fellow students and even by teachers not as pariahs but as popular…” which perhaps explains why their activities go unreported.
In my days at school, bullying wasn’t reported and where it was, few were punished for their bad behaviour. Thankfully, these days, bullying is so bad, schools and institutions have advocacy groups speaking vehemently against it. The evil effects of bullying on victims has called for class action suits around the world, many governments in advanced societies are rallying behind these advocacy groups to speak against bullying, particularly after rising incidents of kids committing suicide after being bullied.
Nigeria is yet to fully get to that level. I haven’t heard about an offender being expelled or even suspended, I guess the schools need the money, and so many bullies are let off with ‘severe warnings’ and nothing else which is why it is oft repeated.
I went to visit my kid one time at the boarding school and was appalled to see my daughter’s eyes all swollen because some senior had thought it necessary to ‘check’ her. What did my daughter do? She overslept and missed prayer meeting.
And my daughter was even scared to tell me about it fearing what would be done to her when I leave.
I felt hot lava shooting out of my ears, nostrils and mouth. Every arsenal in my mind, body and soul was drawn out. I was prepared for war!
Needless to say before I left the school that evening, I called the highest school authority, called the house mistresses and fired missiles at the bullying senior; my child is not for sport! I was given multiple assurances such wouldn’t happen again. If I hear kpim, I’ll be suing the whole darned school and the parents of the bullying child. And I minnit!
Bullies are mostly home-made, when parents neglect to teach their kids real values – respect for other human beings, tolerance, kindness, decorum – they grow up picking bits and pieces from the gutter and grow up uncouth with little regard for other people.
And let’s not kid ourselves; there are bullies everywhere; workplaces, in marriages, even in cyber space, bad behavior is rampant and it all boils down to uncultured human beings taking delight at hurting others either through their actions or their words.
I had a lady boss who was so abusive to those of us working under her supervision that we as a group had to go report her demeaning comments and general nastiness towards us to HR but nothing was done beyond being told to ‘manage’ her.
One day, I submitted a report to her and short of literally exploding, she went into a fit of rage.
One day, I said to myself, PJ, e never reach o? I fired myself from the job and ended up with another that paid three times more than what I earned.
Bullies in marriages are not just wife or husband beaters; they make their spouses suffer emotionally and deprive them of their love and support whenever they feel the spouse has stepped out of line. Victims have been advised over and over again, ‘before you find yourself striking back due to emotional damage, walk away…walk farrrrrr.’
Then there are the faceless cyber bullies who’s best comments are always strings of abuse and insults to anything they don’t agree with. Their papa never taught them decorum, they were never taught by their mama that they can disagree without soaking their mouths in the gutter and spewing the rot from your insides at everyone.
To these lot, unlike bullies in secondary school or the workplace, one can take action – the delete option is always available.