Mental Health

Bullying – what is everyone doing about it?

My day began with a word: Bullying. It first took shape in my morning dream where I saw myself coming out of a shower with a towel wrapped around my adult body but I was asked to wait in a room full of men who are apparently ‘family’ so it’s okay. My mom was there too. There were two guys of the same age who were meddling around with a bottle of hair gel and thought it funny to try and put it on me. I warned them to not even attempt to touch me or my hair and I looked at my mom hoping she would say something to stop them.

Instead I hear her say ‘It’s okay, they are not doing anything wrong. They are just playing. And it’s such a small piece of gel. Don’t make it a big deal.’

In defence I yelled ‘You know I hate touch and I will not let anyone touch me if I don’t like it. I mean NO!’

But these fellows now being supported by my mother’s ‘okay’ take the gel and apply it on my hair. I get up – still with my towel wrapped around me, find a hair dryer in front of me and began swinging it at them, hitting their heads gently but enough to cause pain. They said ‘Stop’ and my mom said ‘Don’t hurt them for such a small thing’. In response I hit them harder ‘It shouldn’t hurt much, you’re grown boys now. I’m sure you can take it. Hair dryer for a gel isn’t it?’

I woke up in a start. The dream tells many things.

Then an 11 year old messages me and we spend some time talking about the bullying happening in school. That other kids are bullying the rest by teasing them with words such as gay and lesbian. I told this kid to bring it up because even if this kid is leaving school soon, such bullying will continue and it will damage the minds of many other kids who don’t have a supportive family to help them deal with the effects of bullying after school.

Kid: Yes you are right. I had one friend like that who went into very bad depression and the family was not supportive at all. People are so mean you know. These kids say that all this is very unnatural and wrong.

I did ask which religion they belong to because there is a huge element of this influence which are giving kids the authority to eve tease, bully other kids and cause such damaging effects that will last a lifetime. Our conversation moves on on what the kid can do about it and why it is important that people like us should not keep quiet when injustice is going on. It’s because we keep quiet they continue. We might have the support or care but others would not so it does become our responsibility to use our courage wisely and not walk out but do something about it so that it does not repeat.

Kid: My sister read your book and told me that you can’t vote or marry or anything like that cause of your illness, is that true? Isn’t that bullying too?

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This comes from a 11 year old kid. Question is what are wrong with all the adults and their intelligent brains?!

The conversation took me back to another 11 year old kid I know who was bullied in a reputed school in Pune, India. Her sanitary napkin were removed from her bag by the boys in her bus and they threw it around telling everyone that she uses them. The kid still lives that memory. The father of this kid brought it up to the school and it was brushed aside by the principal and the teacher as ‘Boys will be boys’ because one of the boys happened to be the principal’s nephew. This 11 year old kid was further bullied as being slow and having a learning disability after that episode because her sister had schizophrenia and the school got to know about it. They put her through a series of test and blamed her inability to focus on anything in school based on her lack of intelligence and that it must be running in the family. Her father removed her from school as the school didn’t do anything about it.

Such adults and schools function on hypocrisy and blind eyes. As long as it does not happen to them or their kids, they do not see the reason to do anything about it. I could name the school, the principal and the kid. But it is a waste of my time and energy now to be focusing on people who could have changed when they wanted to but saw more credibility in charity models.

Bullying begins from home and school. Both places where kids are supposed to feel protected, educated and are given the tools to nurture them to be the changemakers of tomorrow. Kids who are the future. And adults are responsible for delivering it to them. If they can’t they should disappear and let someone else do it.

Such stories make me relive a lot of my own and how it does seem to be playing in my subconscious somewhere. It is not difficult or harsh as the actual years of it – as these are memories that have to surface in order to allow me to heal and move ahead.

What are all of you going to do about it? All you so called adults who claim authority and intelligence and spiritual growth and evolvement? What are you teaching your kids?

I don’t need to offer solutions for this. It is evident what they are if one really wants to see it and do something about it.

Mental illness and disorders are not caused by chemical imbalances that need to be treated and spoken of in closed spaces. They are caused by ‘bullying’. This word can be given many other synonyms but I choose to use this word in particular to the many layers of what how it exist at every level and even up to advocacy. It needs to be spoken about at home and at schools.

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