Once again reading Twitter has got me thinking, well actually remembering rather than thinking. I was lead to a page on bullying.co.uk's site. It gives some really good advice on what to do if your child says they are being bullied by a teacher. Think it doesn't happen? I'm afraid it does.
For me it was over 30 years ago, but I can still remember all the details and I wonder about the damage it may have inflicted on my relationship with my parents and the way I behave today.
It was junior school, I guess I was around 9 or 10. I was always a pretty solitary child, at home I loved to read. I had a favourite book, which was all about history, and I would spend hours in my bedroom absorbing information, dates and names.
One day at school, the teacher, Mrs V asked if anyone knew the date of a particular event in history. As luck would have it, I'd read about the very event the evening before. My hand shot up, how pleased the teacher would be that I could answer!
'Yes?' she asked me. I gave my reply and waited for the praise. It didn't come. Instead her facial features sharpened. 'Don't be ridiculous, you can't possibly know that, no one does!' she snorted.
I could feel a cold wave wash over me. 'I read it in my history book' I quietly replied, hoping to recover the situation. Instead 'No one knows the date, so you can't either' was the curt reply and the classroom erupted into laughter, laughter at me.
The next day, I went to school with my history book and attempted to share it with Mrs V. I think that was when her real hatred of me began. I just wanted to show that I wasn't a liar, I wanted to be vindicated, I wanted to make it all ok again. Interestingly, as an adult I still have this compulsion, I don't think it will ever leave me. I hate it when people judge without having the full facts. I hate it when people are unfair and do not consider the impact their actions have on others.
From that day Mrs V began her bullying. Of course, I didn't understand that as a child, as far as I was concerned she just didn't like me and was mean to me.
The days that followed took a similar path, we would do work and then have to take it to Mrs V's desk. All lined up waiting for our praise. My work was neat and I always tried my best. I was shy and quiet child, I did as I was told. I put my neat book down on the teachers desk, confident in the knowledge that I had done a good piece of work. Mrs V did not agree. She hardly looked at my work before shouting 'Rubbish, do it again!' As she tore the page out of my book, I felt light headed. I could feel my bowels wanting to release, my heart thumped in my chest and I felt dizzy. Within seconds the tears started to well in my eyes and it took no time at all for them to flow freely. Mrs V assumed she hadn't yet done enough and as she handed back my book she followed up with a loud 'oh look at the cry baby everyone' The sound of cruel childish laughter once again filled the room. Humiliation complete.
As I walked home that lunch time I was still sobbing. My Dad shouted at me for crying and when I tried to explain what had happened my Mum told me, 'Don't be silly teachers don't do that, now stop crying'
Weeks went by. Mrs V continued to 'make an example of me' in front of the class and my parents assumed I was making it up. Everyday I took up my work and everyday Mrs V tore it out.
It was a chance meeting which brought my misery to an end. My Mum bumped into one of my classmates Mum's in the street. The other Mum remarked on my terrible treatment, 'isn't it awful what Mrs V does to your daughter' kind of conversation.
I'm not sure my Mum has ever forgiven herself for not believing me and not doing anything about it. Once she realised I'd been telling the truth she wasted no time in going up to school and getting it sorted.
For me I think the full impact of these events may never be known. The teacher was one thing, but the lack of support at home, was quite something else.
A counsellor once asked me what I would say to that little girl if I could walk back into that classroom. I wouldn't say anything, I would hold her tight and cover her ears, I would take her out and I would take care of her.
A visit to the past can very often be painful but it can also shine a light on the present.
- Mum of 2, suffering my own mental health issues, I began to write this blog as a way to release feelings and emotions. At 13 my daughter was terribly bullied which has led to her having serious mental health problems of her own. She is now 16. I wanted to document our journey and hopefully be able to look back and see how far we have come.