Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Bully for you

A you tube video of Asyraf Haziq - the Malaysian student who was mugged following an attack that left him with a broken jaw - became news last week. I don't need to see people being cruel to know that it happens and to be shocked by it. What followed was a flood of sympathy and support for him as the innocent in the chaos of rioting who became caught up in events that he had no involvement in. It made me angry and it left me feeling sick about the mentality of those who not only beat him up initially, but those who then robbed him. It wasn't just criminal, it was old fashioned bullying. 

Then yesterday there was a news report claiming that a third of teachers have been bullied online by parents using facebook. Cyberbullying - as it's being called - is just the most recent development in an age old form of abuse that I've recently had a smidgen of experience of. Whether at school or at work or even at home being bullied has at various times just been a part of my everyday life. After a while it's just how life is and goes some way to explaining why I get so angry about what I see as injustice and unfairness.

It fascinates me what drives some to bully and others to be the ones who are bullied. I've often heard people say that bullies are victims themselves. I'm afraid I can't concur. As someone who has been on the receiving end of bullying at many different stages in life I don't think I've visited it on others as a result. It does make me wonder if some of us are predisposed to being bullied either by virtue of what we look like or how we respond to bullies. I can't recall a time when I've actually confronted a bully, so maybe that and my desperation to be liked makes it easy for them ? 

Of course this doesn't explain why pick on someone who is already bleeding or a person who is doing their job and you just don't like them or what they say. I do wonder what became of the girls who bullied me at school. Did walking behind me in the playground and pushing me or stealing my school bag lead to a fulfilling adult life or are they as pointless now as they were back then ? It's probably all coming back to me because I'm traumatised at the thought of sending my son to a nursery. I know that this is the beginning of leaving him to find his way with other children and he has to learn to be independent and to stand up for himself. I just wish that I didn't keep finding evidence the people can be really nasty and they don't need a reason. 

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

An obituary for Croydon

This morning I took a bus into town and saw a bike shop with windows smashed and Richer Sounds boarded up. It was so close that last night me and hubbie literally sat in the front room fully dressed until 3.30 am in case we needed to get our family out of Croydon to safety.

The last time I was this terrified it was 1977 and the National Front were marching past our family home  - the flat above my parents shop (yes it was on the corner - ha ha very funny). At that time I had no idea why they were marching or who they were, just that my parents had closed up the shop and were peering through the closed curtains. No one should ever see their family this frightened.

I relived that memory today as I felt sick, scared and disbelieving. I don't know what the appropriate response is to feeling afraid that your family might get hurt, but one person (who is abroad right now) kept referring to other people she'd spoken to being 'level-headed' about it. I guess being in another country and watching news footage doesn't automatically make us all experts in empathy.

This afternoon the police issued photos of people who broke into the large retail stores on Purley Way and other stores that have CCTV. The fact that they so blatantly disregarded any need for disguise shows either supreme arrogance or a belief that there will be no consequences for their actions. I sincerely hope they are wrong.