Words of Wisdom from Cotton Wife
When I was in year 9 I was part of a group of girls that picked on another student in our grade. Though I didn’t directly say or do anything to the victim I was one of the silent who stood by and watched.
That group of girls, myself included, was marched to the deputy headmasters office.
We were then sat in a room and listened to a lecture of over an hour that left all of us in tears.
I remember the final instructions so clearly…
“She doesn’t know we know this happened. She doesn’t know we know it was you. She doesn’t know that you are here getting a warning that will be followed up by expulsion if you ever behave like this again. When you leave here you do not speak of this again to anyone. You leave her in peace and find something better to do.”
Only now do I understand that part.
As an adult who has anxiety and chronic fear of confrontation I understand now that Bullying the bullied into talking about their bullies and ‘facing them’ isn’t the answer to the question.
People with anxiety and fear just can’t, let alone face-off with their terrorisers.
So part of today’s conversation has to be about putting the accountability on the bullies and taking the pressure off the victims.
We have to encourage the silent spectators to report the issues anonymously and without retribution. And we have to protect those who need protection.
I don’t have the answers. But I know that all of this “make them talk” stuff is actually an anxious persons worst nightmare… we need to be saying “make them safe” and we need to be putting the onus and accountability on the bullies instead of amplifying the bullying by forcing victims into situations they aren’t comfortable with.
To parents, I hope you can Instill in your young ones to be brave in their choices and true to themselves. To care less about fitting in and more about finding joy and happiness in what they do.
For every teenager in my circles, know that you are loved, as you are.
Being mean won’t make you better or cooler.
Being quiet doesn’t make you uncool or unworthy.
Live and let others do the same.
Think about what you want people to say about you… what words do you want people to use to describe you?
Cool, trendy, vicious, poisonous, bitchy, smart, loyal, gentle, kind, fun, caring, generous. Think about the kind of popular you want to be.
Choose your words and be them.
Be them in everything you do and say.
Be a better version of yourself every single day.