Bullying Then And Now

By: A.C.

This article at the BBC on disabled families being subjected to hate crime is not new at all. Just that those hateful people with little to occupy their minds or hands, have easier methods through social media to carry out their discriminatory campaigns of hate.  I will not produce evidence and reams of data, showing why that is true.

I prefer to relate my own experience as the child of a disabled mother, at a particular time over 50 years ago in the 1960’s.

It may seem strange that I suffered hate crime, as a healthy non–disabled boy, but over the years I have examined what happened during my school years, and I can conclude that certain bigoted elements at secondary school tried to make my life a misery because of my mother’s disability.  

Children are indeed cruel at times, and they home–in on difference, and will attack that difference in the form of bullying. They will use anything to torture their classmates with, unless of course one has a sensible parent who knows what discrimination is.

Difference can be religion, skin colour, red hair, freckles, fatness, thinness, disability, sexuality and not much on difference has changed.

As a youngster I was a member of few youth clubs and I studied martial arts from a young age and I still recommend martial arts for youngsters as a way of self–defense and confidence building.  

However, in those days the prevailing state of mind of teachers and the general adult populace was to stand up for your-self and never let the bully win. In short “give as good as you get”. Some people used humour and wit to defuse situations, but I never really got that chance.  

Suffice to say, I was engaged in defending myself frequently, when the bullies saw that I was not going to be intimidated or insulted by the vile taunts they used about my mother. These physical attacks were repulsed, and usually resulted in them coming back mob-handed, which I then had to escape from, and then when it was suitable, return the favour to a lone bully caught adrift from his little gang of terror.

Just when I thought I would never win against these bullies, I suddenly grew eight inches in height over a year, and broadened out with muscles about the age of fourteen (I can testify that growing pains are very real, as is the fainting) I was suddenly left alone, until the most hateful of the bullies again attacked me verbally and physically, citing me as a freak and mentally weak because I was born of a disabled mother. The most hurtful thing shouted at me was that “Hitler was right to get rid of people like your mother”. 

Remember this was just a couple of decades after WW2, and these attitudes were rife amongst adolescents and adults then. I doubt they formed those opinions on their own– just like those opinions still lurk amongst the open street abuse, or hateful online abuse we see nowadays.

I think there are sufficient routes to complain and seek support and help these days. I am sure that schools these days would never be as unresponsive to obvious bullying and distress as the staff were to me in the 60’s. Nowadays the use of talking therapy, psychology, and behavioural guidance to re–educate those who bully others is the normal way of dealing with a bully.  

My secondary schooldays taught me about discrimination and how humans will naturally gang–up and spout the most evil thoughts at people. Those bullies did it in school, and nowadays these types of people do the same from remote locations online.

Nowadays though, youngsters would be arrested by the Police for confronting the bully, and one should never confront a bully as they can be an unknown physical quantity, quite apart from what his or her friends might do. One could simply compound the situation and make it worse. So face to face confrontation is probably not the best route for anyone, and all complaints should go through the authorities. At least they listen nowadays.

So my schoolboy solutions in the 1960’s are not to be recommended, simply because the legal & educational authorities at that time, and who were probably all ex –military in some capacity, recognised the maxim “giving as good as you get”  and were of a particularly un –sympathetic mind-set, requiring a different way of doing things.   .  

That thinking is no longer supported by those same authorities nowadays.  They would regard my story of how I had to deal with hate crime when the authorities refused to get involved, with professional horror.  

 Suffice to say that particular bully never bothered me again though.

For advice with hate crime there are websites to go to for support and help: http://www.scotland.police.uk/keep-safe/advice-for-victims-of-crime/hate-crime/what-is-hate-crime/


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