Before I start this blog, I'd just like to say that I'm not perfect; I've said things in the heat of the moment that have actually been really hurtful, I've probably damaged somebody's confidence without giving it a second thought and I've hurt somebody's feelings without realising it. Words do have actions and although I'd like to be able to sit here and say that I've always been a completely innocent party, I can't. I'd be lying. However, I can honestly say that I have learnt from my mistakes. Now, I never say something without thinking about the consequences it might have on another person and I would never try to hurt somebody on purpose. I guess you could say, I've grown up.
I've had the experience of being both the bullied and part of the bullies. The latter I'm not exactly proud of and luckily, I realised before things got too advanced that I wasn't being very nice. I was never the instigator and I was NEVER violent but a few words came out of my mouth that probably shouldn't have and I regret that now. I've made my peace with the people I hurt and I've apologised. I'm not saying that makes everything ok, because it doesn't but it does make things a little lighter.
Being somebody who is quite open minded, I've had a lot of digs.
Like the time I dyed my hair orange; I thought it looked alright but the group of girls standing on the corner of my street shouting "get back in your biscuit tin, you ginger tw*t" clearly weren't the biggest fans of my hair. Another example would be the group of girls that decided it would be fun to mock me endlessly for having glasses at the age of 7. They turned friends against me, made me scared to go to school and even made me question my appearance. At the age of 7. There's something that just doesn't sit right with me about that, 11 years on.
I've been called "fat", I've had stuff thrown at me and I've been terrified to leave my house at one stage. Throughout all of this, I always thought the problem was me. That I had done something wrong to be called horrible names and left out of plans. But really, looking back on things, I realise that the issue was always with the person doing the bullying. It's always about their insecurities, their issues with them self. I can safely say that I certainly had my own issues when I was part of a group making other's feel bad about the way they looked.
Bullying has always been an issue, it's just never always been addressed properly. You hear advice like "hit back twice as hard", "ignore it" and "don't let it get to you", but all of this is simply ignoring the matter at hand. It doesn't sit down with the person being bullied and let them talk about how they feel, it just teaches them that two wrongs supposedly make a right.
The reason why I'm writing this isn't to make myself feel better for past mistakes or to brag about how much I've 'matured', it's merely to raise a point.
There are so many children, and adults, out there being bullied for one reason or another and I understand that schools, teachers, parents etc are all trying to help but what difference would it make if WE tried to help too?
Take 5 minutes out of your busy day, maybe miss a little bit of Eastenders or skip that 2nd glass of wine and please, please, please check out this website: http://www.beatbullying.org/.
Everybody involved with this amazing organisation focuses on helping the bullied regain their confidence and find their feet in this crazy world after having their confidence shattered. Not only do they work with the bullied, but they also work with the bullies. They focus on getting them to take ownership of their actions and take responsibility. For them, it's all about changing attitudes.
A good buddy and fellow blogger of mine, Geek marries Chic, has also recently blogged about this wonderful organisation and that's what got me thinking. Part of beatbullying's work is a scheme called CyberMentors which focuses on young people helping other youngsters (whether they're the bullied or the bullies, it doesn't matter; anybody can ask for help/advice) overcome the bullying. What made me feel so inspired by the scheme is that anybody can help. It takes 2 minutes to sign up, you wait for an e-mail accepting your application and then BOOM, you're free to act as a cyber shoulder for these kids to cry on and talk too.
What I'm asking for is that you, reading this blog, take that into consideration. Spending 2 minutes filling out an online application form could change somebody's life. It's a small amount of time, but it could potentially make a huge difference to a child's soul.
So this weekend, while you're out with your friends having fun, please think of those children that can't do the same due to lack of confidence, lack of friends etc. If you have a spare few minutes, why not sign yourself up? If there's one thing you do this weekend, please make it that.
That's enough preaching from me, I have an online application form to fill in.
Cybermentors - here's the link to the Cybermentors website. It'll give you all the information that you need to know and there's that all important application form too...