Victim shares tragic childhood experiences.
Bullying has become ugly. When I was young, bullies ruled the schoolyard, beating up any poor kid weaker than them. But now, bullies use the internet to strike fear into their unweary victims.
Cyberbullying has become common, especially among teenagers. Bullies use harmful rumours, sexual remarks, threats and hate speech to hurt their victims. Unfortunately, some of these acts have resulted in kids killing themselves.
One victim, Paul, was bullied when he was a kid. He was considered the outsider. Children teased him for the way he looked, the way he acted and the way he talked. And playing victim, Paul always gave into their mindless taunts. He says, “I should’ve fought back. I should’ve stood my ground.”
Grade 3 was Paul’s worst year. He feared the schoolyard. On some evenings, Paul came home crying because of what the bullies said or what they did. Most of his aches and pains came three kids in particular. He says: “Their full-time job was finding new and creative ways of making my life miserable. Their workshops were after hours when I was getting off the school bus.”
The bully trio, as Paul called them, hid on a well-hidden property. Tall, neatly trimmed bushes surrounded a house, keeping it out of sight.
Paul continues: “The bully trio loved to use this property for their sneak attacks. They’d hide there and wait until I passed by and then they’d pounce. It was their bully trap. It was only two minutes away from the bus stop, so to avoid it, I’d either have to run past it or take another route home. There were two routes: the short, direct route or the not-so-desirable longer route.”
Sometimes, Paul walked home with his best friend, Jamie. He was the only friend Paul had. Jamie, himself, was singled out for being “different.”
“Jamie received the routine name-calling,” Paul says. “I got the full bully package with all the beatings.”
One evening, Paul wanted to take the longer route home. The quick route was just too dangerous.
“My gut didn’t feel right about the direct route and I was in no mood to deal with the three stooges,” Paul recalls. “But Jamie insisted we take the direct route. He said if we met up with them, we’d run as fast as we could. I reluctantly agreed.”
The two walked briskly passed the bully trap, looking for signs of danger. “I never felt completely safe, until I was in my cozy house.” Once the tension subsided, the two walked at a moderate pace.
THE NIGHTMARE BEGINS
Usually, when the bullies emerged, Paul and Jamie would run with a less-than-narrow escape. Paul wasn’t so lucky today. The bullies emerged and chased the boys.
“My daring escape was suddenly brought to a sudden halt. Jamie grabbed my collar and held me until the dogs arrived,” Paul recalls.
Jamie and the bullies grabbed Paul and dragged him behind the trees of the hidden property. “I never said anything. I couldn’t say anything. What would I do? What could I do? I wanted to be home. I wanted to see my parents. I just wanted to be anywhere, except in this green prison.”
Paul continues: “Jamie pulled my arms and kept them firmly behind my back while the bullies took turns driving their fists into my stomach. Afterward, all four placed themselves into a circle and I kissed each one of their feet. I learned humiliation this day.”
“Then it was Jamie’s turn. One of the bigger bullies grabbed my arms and held me while Jamie drove his daggers into my stomach, torn flesh to heal but always to be scared,” Paul recalls. “I looked to escape. When they loosened their grip, or while I was on my knees kissing their feet, I looked past them hoping they’d let their guard down and I could flee.”
Paul saw an opening, ran, but the bullies quickly caught him. By this time, the bullying had moved on to the road. “I looked for anyone to help, but there was no one. Seconds seemed like minutes, and the minutes were hours with no ending.”
An opportunity to escape did arise. A woman saw the action happening from her front window. She opened her door and hollered for the thugs to stop their thrashing. The bullies just laughed at her, but it was the window Paul needed. The bullies’ grip on Paul lightened. Paul saw freedom, and he escaped.
“I ran without looking back,” Paul says. “The taunts and the skin pincers were still fresh in my mind. I saw home. Relief lifted the heavy weight from my stomach, as I stumbled in the front door crying.”
Paul continues: “My babysitter was frantic. She asked where I was, but tears came faster than explanations. She asked what happened. I still couldn’t answer her. I feared for my life. I didn’t want to say anything that would result in hurt later on. She was upset. I lowered my head feeling absolutely terrible. It was my fault. I didn’t wish to anger my babysitter, but I did. I heard the clank of the screen door. I looked outside.”
“Get back here you little weasel!” said Paul’s babysitter. She chased Jamie, catching him by his collar. She shook him, which, consequently, led to a confession.
“I don’t recall what happened next. I tried to forget.”
Paul’s mother called the school and the bullies were punished with a week’s worth of detentions. The next day, Paul’s mother drove him to school. When he approached the entrance, his other classmates heard about the events from the day before. The bullies teased him for narking. Jamie shared his misfortunes to the others as well. Shortly after, the bullies threatened to hurt Paul again.
“Jamie received the worst punishment. He was trying to be accepted by his peers and instead he was the scapegoat. The bullies blamed him for instigating the assault. Apparently, they were victims of peer pressure. Yeah, right.”
Later, Jamie tried to mend fences with Paul. He said, “I thought it was the thing to do at the time.”
How unfortunate. It took one person to get the ball rolling and than everyone banded together and tried to kick it. But when it’s time to pay the consequences, no one wants to admit their faults. “Individually, a person is smart, but people, with a mob mentality, can be really dumb.” iT!