Childhood Bullying

kerry

I don’t recall any bullying before I started Primary School but almost immediately was aware of the potential from the High School right next to ours. Ours was Catholic and the other was not. This was leading up to the height of the IRA conflict in the ’70s. From age 5 to 12, I was occasionally bullied by children of another faith on my way home. It would have been more sensible to have walked with a friend but sometimes I wanted to walk on my own and had to face the consequences. They threatened violence but didn’t follow through with me.

I looked very different to the children at my primary school and that made me feel alienated. There was some mean girl behavior but most of that is normal for our species. When I look at our cats, I see bullying and Alpha behavior all the time. When I was about 10, a new girl who went to the other school, moved into the house two doors away from me. I had to pass her garden to come home and she started bullying me. She was a big girl and would threaten to beat me up if I passed her house. She terrorized me and I sobbed to my mother at home. Rightly or wrongly, my mum said that it was time I stood up for myself and didn’t speak to the girl’s mother. I just went home by a different, longer route to avoid this girl.

When I was 11 and just about to leave primary school I was sexually molested by a slightly older boy at school. That was frightening in a whole other way. I have no happy memories of primary school whatsoever and had many days when I sobbed, asking to stay at home. Finally it was time to go to high school. We were annexed into girls and boys. Our classes were streamed for both IQ and test results. For once I was with like minds in Class A1 although there were still bullies… How do they know how to find the weak? I guess it is the same in every herd. One girl liked to stab safety pins into your behind or wherever she could reach. Another was verbally abusive. Other like-minded girls and the drama group was my savior. We clung to each other for safety and most of us are still friends. Later, a suitor commented that I looked unapproachable but I was just intensely shy and concerned about people looking at me. I had no idea I was prettier than average and was very aware of my faded poor clothing.

In five years I didn’t use a bathroom at school because I was scared of the mean girls who patrolled them – I had to run home to go to the bathroom after classes finished. I had a light bulb moment when I knew I was applauded for a speech that I read and my confidence was boosted exponentially. This is the link to the post. The day I knew I could write Our school decided we would all be safer if both boys and girls had self-defense classes because of the regular bomb threats and the ongoing hostilities between Catholics and Protestants in Ireland and parts of Scotland. That was what provoked me to make my comment on Kate’s blog aroused  That led to this series on bullying. It dramatically improved my fear of the world and the techniques are still with me to this day. This confidence regarding violence allows me to travel to unusual places without any consequence, so far… I use common sense as well.

Even then, there was one final bullying episode before I left school. My speech which criticized the Catholic Church had so incensed one of the senior principals that she refused to give me a reference for college and used a small infraction as her excuse. This time I refused to give in to her threats and got a reference from the bank manager. That wouldn’t have been sufficient for some colleges but it was fine for me.

Next post is bullying in sexual relationships

Please don’t hate Muslims

istanbul abu dhabi 259

As soon as the attacks in Paris occurred, I knew there would be a backlash not just against ISIS but all Muslims. Surely the world must realize that the majority of Muslims are peaceful with no wish to harm anyone? As one Parisian Muslim said yesterday on CNN, “These people are not Muslims – they are going to hell”. You can misinterpret any ancient religious text – from the Old Testament to the Book of Mormon. The Old Testament reflected the violence of the times – an eye for an eye; a tooth for a tooth. In biblical times it was common for men to take more than one wife to protect a widowed sister-in-law because so many men died in battles. I did not meet one polygamist in Egypt despite the law allowing you to have four wives that must be treated equally. Some of the Koran’s texts are archaic but it is still just a general moral code, like the Bible and the Torah.

To get some perspective, if you ever, even unwittingly, supported one of the ‘Irish’ groups in the US who were funneling money to the IRA, in the 70s and 80s, then you may have unintentionally reduced the quality of my and my family’s life. One time when I was staying in a relative’s home in southern Ireland, the house shook to when a bomb went off in Northern Ireland more than 50 miles away. I know that the IRA, and likely the Loyalist Protestant faction, were smuggling drugs, guns and other illicit substances across the border to fund their terrorism. I have to share some guilt in this. When I was a teenager, a neighbor’s son, who was at school with me, was rumored to have joined the IRA. He was probably disenfranchised, lived in over-crowded public housing and was the minority religion in a Protestant city. That said, he was streamed, like me, to study medicine or law so the world was his oyster with public funding available for university study. Perhaps I should have told a teacher or someone else in authority but I was too frightened to say anything. In any case, I had no evidence of his activities other than the information was from a very reliable source. His parents used to play Irish rebel songs at full blast in the back yard just to annoy the Protestant neighbors – we felt horribly stuck in the middle.

I suppose what I am saying is – did you hate all Irish Catholics or Irish Protestants when the IRA/Loyalist terrorism was at its height? What about the Kennedys? When terrorism rears its ugly head, we need to be vigilant, sensible but keep perspective. One decade it was Christians, the other Muslims and yet another, people of no faith. Bottom line – you have to be a bad person to take the life of an innocent for whatever cause you believe in.