Here are just a few of the statistics given:
- 69% of children in the UK report being bullied
- 87% of parents report that their child had been bullied in the past 12 months
- 20% report bullying others
- 85% had witnessed bullying
- (admirably, 82% of them tried to intervene).
- It is estimated that at least 20 children and adolescents a year commit suicide because of being bullied
- 1 in 3 young people who experience bullying truant from school (42% of young people who have been bullied truant)
- 20,000 young people truant everyday as a result of bullying
I was 12 when I first got bullied. We had not long moved from Carmarthen, which is a small town in South Wales to a village called Gorslas. The move meant that I needed to change school. At first all was fine. I made new friends and life was good. I did end up hanging out with the smokers and, at the age of 12 I had my first cigarette. Unfortunately, this was a habit that stayed with me until just over three years ago!
I can't even remember what I was bullied for. All I remember was that I felt my life at that school was hell. I did have friends who stuck by me, but day to day I was scared of the girl who was doing the bullying.
After about 4 or 5 months, my mum told me we were moving back to Carmarthen. I was so happy. I thought that the hell would end. I didn't realise that it was just the beginning and things were going to get much worse.
We moved back to Carmarthen and again at first, all was good. I was back with my old friends from primary school. I was the type of person who got on with everyone. I enjoyed being with the 'swatty' kids, the 'bit weird' kids and, as a smoker, of course, I hung around behind the sheds with the smokers.
The biggest turning point was at a friends party when I was 13 or 14. I was sleeping over that night, but it was quite a big party and my friends house was huge. I can't remember if the bullying had started before that night, but certainly it was then that things got worse. Two of the girls in my year decided to start on me. I don't remember why, but in them having a go, one of them started to hit me. In trying to protect myself, I somehow managed to break the chain around the girls neck. This of course riled them up worse. I spent most of the night locked in the bathroom hiding away from them. One of these girls was someone I had grown up with, someone I thought was a friend. I didn't know who to trust or who would turn on me.
After that the two girls got worse. They wanted me to pay for the broken chain. Of course, I didn't have money and my parents wouldn't give it to me. After a few weeks of harassment another girl got involved. This one was a year younger than me. She took it up to the next level and beat me up after we got off the school bus. My eye had swollen up and I had visible bruising. I think my mum took me to the hospital or doctors, as I remember being told that I had a suspected crushed nerve around the eye. This time my mum got involved and called the police. They came round and took photos for evidence and I believe they charged the girl and fined her.
Of course, it didn't stop there. Now, not only am I guilty of breaking a necklace, I am also responsible for the girl getting charged. Now they wanted me to drop the charges. Even if I'd wanted to, there was nothing I could do as there would be no way my mum would have dropped any charges.
For the remainder of my school life I was bullied daily. I had things thrown at me, called names, threatened, had nasty things being said to me. In one lesson they even tipped a fountain pen cartridge over my head. Although I had friends, no-one intervened or stood up for me. Some would try to comfort me when things were bad, but no-one would stand up to the girls. In fact, most of my smoker friends were also friends with the girls, so they just didn't get involved.
I started to skip school. In my last year at school I was probably out of school more than I was in school. I found that I would hang around with boys more than I would with girls. Boys were less likely to turn on me or get bitchy. Of course, this then earnt me the reputation of being a slag, when in fact, I was actually a virgin until after I had left school!
At one point I wanted to end my life. I think it was after the ink incident. I felt like I couldn't take anymore. Luckily, at the time, I was seeing a boy who wasn't in my school and he helped me through this worst point.
My mum had been to the school, but the school wouldn't do anything as most of it wasn't seen or took place on the bus. I had nowhere to turn.
Things only changed after we moved again, this time to Swansea. I was still in the same school as I was near to taking my exams, but I no longer had to catch the same bus as them.
Even now, after 16 years, it still affects my life. I am still wary of the type of women who remind me of those girls. I keep my head down and only let a few people close to me. I still get on better with guys than I do girls. I don't complain to people or businesses (although I do come home and whinge to my hubby after! lol). I rarely say no to anyone outside of my immediate family.
These three girls made my life a living hell while I was at school and because of them I have grown up as a person with very little self confidence. I often wonder if they ever regret what they did to me, or are they like many of the chavvy mothers I see at my son's school who stand around judging everyone else. The ones who give me dirty looks when one of my boys plays up. Somehow I think that they are probably the latter.
I also wonder how they would react if their children had to endure what they had put me through. I wouldn't wish it on anyone, but how would they handle it?
This is just my story. There are other children out there who have had to deal with much worse bullying than this. No matter how bad the bullying is physically, it's the mental scars that never heal. That is why we must make bullying unacceptable.
Please visit the Beat Bullying website and see if there is anything you can do to help.
*Statistics taken from the Beat Bullying website.