Written by Rose King

In The News

Make a noise about bullying

This week is Anti-Bullying Week. Given a tough time by bullies at school, Rose King is rightly adamant that something needs to be done all year round.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Illustration by Louise Boulter.

Growing up, I was one of those weird kids that could never fit in, no matter how hard I tried. Though I accelerated in learning skills and enjoyed lessons, because of my autism I wasn’t yet as mature as the other students. I’d often cry in class, until recently had panic attacks, and wasn’t up to speed with the whole friend-making thing.

I also have a condition on par with but not exactly Tourette’s; I occasionally twitch and tic, sometimes yelling out words or gasping loudly, mostly whenever I am stressed or have had sugar/caffeine. I like to call it ‘glitching’, because then I can be Vanellope from Wreck-It Ralph and that’s always good.

I’m not the only one in my family who is disabled; my little sister has a genetic condition similar to Downs called Kabuki Syndrome, and my brother has classic autism.

When I started high school, while many people were very understanding and kind to me, there were some who didn’t take kindly to this childish glitching kid who cried all the time (I have to admit I was pretty annoying) and resolved to punish me for it.

It started with regular verbal abuse; I got all the standards: ‘retard’, ‘spaz’, ‘baby’, as well as other cruel insults regarding me and my family. I never fought back against any of these insults; for one thing, the kids doing it were often much bigger than me, and the ones who weren’t hung around with those who definitely were.

I went to the teachers and asked for help with the situation. They gave the classic answer: “Just ignore them.” As a naive child who believed that adults – especially teachers – were always right, I took this advice on and started using it to its full capacity.

For some weird reason, many people seem to accept bullying as just a normal part of growing up, no matter how drastic or vicious the abuse is. If a child averts the status quo in any way, whether on purpose or through no fault of their own, it’s highly likely that they will be alienated from the student body and persecuted by the other children. This has happened for years, and it needs to stop.

“Despite anything they did, my teachers refused to punish my harassers with anything more than a stern talking to.”

As I got older and began to mature more towards the social levels of the other kids, the abuse continued. My bullies began pushing and shoving me, throwing rocks at me in the street. Again, I was too afraid to fight back myself. I talked to the teachers again and was greeted with the same answer: “Just ignore them – they’ll go away.”

I stuck by this rule and ignored the bullies, didn’t respond. But, despite my teacher’s claims, they didn’t go away; instead they took my lack of resistance as an invitation to bully me more, take their antics further. Throughout high school, I was subjected to most kinds of assault: verbal, physical, sexual etc. Despite anything they did, my teachers refused to punish my harassers with anything more than a stern talking to. By the time I left school I was severely depressed and suicidal.

I don’t want this to be read as a sob story, though. I do not see myself as a victim anymore. I want to use my story to help try and stop this from ever happening to a child again, whether they are disabled or not. I know that what happened to me is not unusual; I have many friends and acquaintances who have undergone experiences of bullying, and have had a frighteningly similar reaction from their teachers and carers.

This so called advice of ‘just ignore them’ has never helped a bullied child. Not once. Instead it gives the abusers the idea that whatever they do, they will not be punished for it, that their actions will not have consequences. I understand that my bullies will probably have had their own stuff going on that I was not aware of – I’m not angry at them for what they did. I’m angry at the people who stood by and let children with already serious emotional problems pass their pain onto others, without helping either party.

The world needs to start cracking down on bullying. And it needs to start right now.

www.antibullyingweek.co.uk

@indigocoil

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Written by Rose King

Rose King is 17 and in her second year at college. She is very passionate about human rights and does all she can to raise awareness for minority groups, particularly autism and disability rights. She also loves to read and write, especially comics and classic literature. She lives with her family in West Yorkshire.