Bullying is the one thing that terrifies me to my core as a parent, probably because it’s a subject matter very close to my heart. I went to eight different schools when I was growing up, and suffered quite bad bullying at the last two I attended. More so than the name calling, spitting and low level violence, one very vivid memory sticks in my head. Of me at 14 crying my eyes out and desperate for a hug with outstretched arms – all my ‘friends’ standing in a circle with their arms folded tightly to their chests. It makes me shudder. If I think hard enough I can remember how worthless I was made to feel.
I’ve written before about my dysfunctional upbringing, and I suppose it made me an easy target for bullies. I got myself into all sorts of scrapes as a young adult too, because I had very little self esteem. As outgoing and confident as I’ve always been, I had zero respect for myself until my early twenties when I went through counselling. I’d had two suicide attempts by the age of 16, but came through the darkness and am here telling the tale. A good friend of mine who also had a difficult childhood often says that I’m the most normal person she knows. This may be an insult to some, but it’s a compliment of the highest order for me.
The world now is much tougher than the one I grew up in though. The ugly side of social medial is enough to drive most of us to despair, let alone fragile teens. I honestly cannot see the point of ask.fm, and have signed the petition calling for it to be closed down. It currently has just over 11,000 signatures, but needs 100,000. Something needs to be done before more children take their own lives.