As part of a book I am writing on bullying prevention, I am conducting hundreds of interviews with bullying victims, bystanders and bullies. Below is the transcript of one of these interviews. The interviewee's name has been changed to protect his privacy.
Carrie: When did you first become a victim of
Eric: I started getting bullied in
Carrie: What forms
did the bullying take?
Eric: It was everything from name calling, to theft of my property to being
Carrie: Why did
people target you?
Eric: I was different. Kids tend to
focus on something that stands out as being "wrong". In my
case, it was the fact that I had a prosthetic eye, and I was artistic instead of
Carrie: Did anyone ever try to intervene? (school,
Eric: Both the school and my parents
intervened to an extent. The school just told the bullies (there was the ring
leader and his "cronies") to stop, but they never listened, and often times I
would get in trouble for trying to defend myself because they would all tell
the teachers I started a fight when they had in fact come after me first. Bystanders generally cheered them on or even
My parents told me to just ignore them, but ignoring name
calling is very different from ignoring flat out violence to one's self. Eventually my parents let me study Ju-Jitsu
which helped me feel more confident and taught me self-discipline and to defend
Carrie: How did the bullying affect you?
Eric: I think it's fair to say that
bullying never affects the victim positively at a young age. It made me very
shy and scared. I always felt like I had to be on guard. Going to school in
the morning was torture knowing what was waiting for me when I got there.
used to pretend to be sick to try getting out of going to school. I would come
up with excuses or lies that I told parents to try to avoid having to be around
the other kids at school. It made me pretty paranoid for a little kid!
Carrie: How did you overcome the bullying? Or how did
Eric: As I got older I was certainly
bullied less, but that doesn't mean it stopped. I ultimately overcame it after
a summer at a performing arts camp where people were very accepting of me and I
was able to come out of my shell and really have fun.
When I got back to school I was a different person.
Confident, willing to stand up for myself, and ready to take on anything that
was thrown my way. I was also just sick of being treated badly after finding
out what it was like to be accepted, so I decided I wasn't going to let it
happen anymore. Most of the time I was able to talk myself out of situations,
but there were a few fights as well, and other kids could see that I could
handle myself and started to lay off.
Carrie: How has the bullying affected who you are
Eric: I actually think being bullied
back then has made me a far better person today. I'm very caring and compassionate towards
others. I'm very protective of my
friends and family, and truly worry about and wish to help those who often can't
help themselves. I hated being bullied,
but in a way it molded me into a stronger man in the end.
Carrie: What advice do you have for kids who are
Eric: First and foremost: TELL! It
used to be that if you "tattled" you would get into even more trouble, so it
was essentially being bullied into silence. But once someone knows, (parents, the school,
etc) it's out there and some kind of intervention can happen. Never be afraid to tell on a bully.
No matter what, stay true to yourself. Don't change who you
are because of a bully. They are ultimately cowards who do what they do to
build themselves up and try to make themselves look "cool".
Learn to do something that makes you feel confident. For me
it was martial arts and magic/sleight of hand. Martial arts helped me realize
that I could stop a bully if I absolutely had to, but never to go around
looking for trouble. Sleight of hand gave me a skill no one else in school
possessed, and other students wanted to see what I could do, and liked my
abilities. When other people like you and want to be around you, it makes it
much harder for a bully to come after you.
Carrie: What advice
do you have for parents of kids who are bullied?
Eric: Listen and act. The most
important thing a parent can do is listen when their child says they are being
bullied and help in any way they can. Just reminding your child how special
they are and how much you love them, helps. My parents were and still are very
supportive of me, and having that support at a young age went a long way.
don't baby a child who is bullied. Unfortunately, there are some things they
may have to learn on their own when dealing with bullies. Hiding them away from
what's out there won't help to make them stronger. Teach them how to deal with
adversity in any way you can. Encourage their confidence, their interests and
be an active part of their lives.
Readers, if you were a bully, a bystander or a victim and
you would like to volunteer to be interviewed, please email me at
email@example.com. My book is about bullying prevention and will be published by Harper Collins. Thank you! Carrie