So in case you can't tell from the title of this post, today is the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. I wish that I could say that given we are living in the 21st century with smart phones and cars that can reverse parallel park on their own, that bullying is a thing of the past. But sadly it is still as much a part of life as it was when I was in school. Of course bullying these days is somehow more sinister because the perpetrators can reach you anywhere thanks to the internet. Once upon a time your home was a safe haven far away from all the jerks you had to spend your day with, but these days they can follow you via websites like Facebook and Twitter and attack you in the privacy of your own lounge room.
I don't know if I have ever revealed this here, but throughout my school life I was picked on by bullies. It started in about grade 2 or 3, and continued until I graduated high school. That is ten years of being a victim. It did get easier once I was in year 10, I started standing up to the bullies, I even screamed in the face of one particularly nasty cow in the middle of class then stormed out of the room before the teacher could stop me. I also had the good fortune to finally find myself a good group of friends who whilst unable to stop me from being a target, did make it easier to cope with. But in those ten years I was called names, spat on, beaten up, had things thrown at me and made absolutely miserable by dozens and dozens of children. I can't even say for sure why they picked on me. It could have been because in their eyes I was just too different. I had a large family with not a lot of money, we were religious and kept to ourselves mostly, and I didn't join any after school clubs or sports except to take part in the school musicals, and that just seemed to add fuel to the fire. Of course I never let it stop me, I loved the theatre, and it was the perfect escape for me from all of them.
Well as you can tell, I survived the bullies, and the rest of school and am still here almost eleven years out from graduating stronger than ever. But I was one of the lucky ones. There are some people out there who give in to the bullies and don't make it out alive. So it is to prevent more victims that days like today are created. Of course there are any number of resources out there for anyone who is a victim of a bully, or a parent of a victim, or even the bullies and their families too. Facebook has a page on their website giving advice on what to do if you see anyone being harassed via Facebook here, Beyond Blue has any number of information sheets on their website for you to check out here not just about bullying but also about depression, eating disorders and everything in between. But for anyone who is here and needs advice right now, let me give you the piece of advice my mum always gave to me when things got too tough. One day you will be out of high school, and you will be living your life, and it is going to be an awesome life. And the little brats (I paraphrased there) who picked on you in high school will be out of your life, and completely unable to hurt you any more. So until then you just have to stick it out and know that it will not last forever.
And she was absolutely right.