The Case of Bullying

Some time ago I talked about bullying with a friend. He asked when I would get married and have kids (with question and exclamation marks!). I answered but I implied that it’s actually none of his business and that I don’t like such questions. You might think I’m exaggerating but it’s NOT the first time he asked me that question, so it’s kinda getting annoying coming from him. I’m usually chill when I get such questions because I always have the answer. But guess what? He says that bullying is a common practice among close friends and to make us closer as friends and that it’s good to strengthen our mentality. I’m like, “What the fuck, dude?” His argument be like, “The world is harsh and bullying helps you train and prepare for it.” I seriously don’t get it. The world is harsh, but bullying makes it harsh and harsher. If we really want to help people face the world, that’s not by bullying and making the world harder for them. It’s by building their confidence and give them some courage so when the world tries to bring them down or look down on them, they can move up and forward because they know “they can do it.” Man, you help a hungry guy by giving him some fish or giving him some rod and teaching him to fish so he can be independent and feed himself. You don’t help a hungry guy by starving him longer just so he can get used to hunger! What kind of twisted logic is this, bullying to make you mentally stronger? If the person gets mentally stronger, that’s fine. But, what if they’ve already got too much on their plates and bullying just makes them have some kind of mental health problem? Are you really going to take responsibility for it? I don’t think so!

I don’t know what pic to go with this post so I just take a random pic from my Gallery…

But anyway, talking bout bullying, I’ve been meaning to review this drama I watched some time ago. It’s 35-sai no Koukousei (35歳の高校生/No Dropping Out: Back to School at 35). It’s just 11 episodes. It’s about a 35yo lady who goes back to high school to finally finish her study. I don’t want to go back into the details of the lady but I guess this drama really wants to highlight about bullying. And to be honest, I find it quite upsetting. I know they’re kinda dramatizing everything, like, everything and everyone at the school really sucks! As someone who works in this line of education it’s really driving me crazy. Like, “How can a school do it? How can the principal only think about his image? How can the teachers just turn a blind eye when they know bullying happens at school? Why is everyone just silent when they see bullying happens right before their eyes? And more importantly, why do they bully others?” These so many questions really make me mad. I know they give it such a dramatizing effect and it’s just a fictional work, but what upsets me might be: there is also that possibility that such thing truly happens in real life, albeit maybe subtler. It’s just not right. The principal should be more responsible. The teachers should be more helpful. The parents should be more supportive and understanding. The students should be more empathetic and nicer. But, okay, they are assigned such characters because that’s the purpose of this drama: those bad behaviors shouldn’t exist. And if they do, we should definitely change it. But, okay, we’re not here to judge; we’re here to understand.

So, here are some highlights.

  1. Bullying doesn’t always happen between students only.
  2. Bullying can be done by a teacher to their students.
  3. Bullying can be done by students to the teacher.
  4. Bullying can be done by the parents to their kids.
  5. Bullying can be done by fellow teachers/colleagues.
  6. Bullying can be done by a superior/senior to a junior/a new person.
  7. And there are some reasons why someone bullies, doesn’t stand up for themselves when they’re being bullied, doesn’t go with the friend who stands up for them when they’re being bullied, and doesn’t stand up for others when they witness bullying happen in front of them.

But, ok, we’re just trying to understand why. It’s not to justify that what they do is right or okay. Rather, it’s to understand the motive so we can prevent them from happening. Bullying is wrong, no matter what the reason is. But understanding why someone bullies or doesn’t stand up for others might help us help them better. So, here are some of the reasons, at least from what I observed and remember.

  1. People often turn a blind eye when bullying happens often times because they don’t want to be the next target of bully They’re scared themselves. They just want to be saved themselves. Especially because they believe that if they’re being bullied next, nobody will help them. If they ask others to fight the bully together, they’re scared that they’ll actually betray them and, instead, tell the bully to get on their good side side, hence making them the target of bullying. They don’t want to get on the bully’s bad side. Well, again, it doesn’t make it right, but, still, it’s understandable. Not everyone is as brave and courageous as you, okay? In this movie, this is portrayed through the students who keep silent when their “friend” is being bullied, when they’re forced to celebrate with “the bullies”. The teachers, too. It’s a joke, but they say they don’t want to get on the bullies’ bad side either because it might affect their evaluation. Like, if the bullies fight them, they might lose their job, and they need it, so they pretend that the bullying doesn’t happen. So ridiculous! But I really hope it doesn’t happen in real life. Aamiin.
  2. Another “interesting” thing comes from one of the bullies’ perspectives. I might be biased because Suda Masaki is like the leader of this gang. LoL And as I watched the drama, I was actually thinking and guessing why he became a bully. My guess was maybe he experienced some kind of abuse at home. You know, sometimes it turns to be a series or a chain of bully You get abused/bullied at home, you take your fury and frustration to someone else at school, at work, etc. But I was wrong. Here’s the thing: From his point of view, he becomes a bully not because he wants to be a bully. Initially he just didn’t want people to make fun of him so he started to make fun of others and before he realized it, he enjoyed doing it and went too far.

In summary: Everyone just wants to be accepted. They want to get along with others. But often times, their fear turns them into bullies, or stops them from standing up for themselves and for others. What can we do? We need to create a system or an environment where students-and the teachers-can have some trust and confidence about themselves, that they are accepted, that if they stand up when something is wrong, they’ll be fully supported and protected, that they won’t be bullied themselves. Is it possible? Well, what is not possible if we give it a try? We can create a rule, a law, with some consequences. We can create some activities that can strengthen the bond not only between students but also between teachers, teacher student, teacher parent, parent teachers, etc. Well, there are many ways. Consultation? Sharing sessions? Anonymous letters to express their concern? There’s a lot and I really hope we can do it to prevent bullying from happening or continuing.

If you’re being bullied, you can do these two: First, you must stand up for yourself. Report to your teacher, principal, parent, police, use the media, make it viral, etc. Seek help! Do whatever you can to stop them from bullying you. You might be scared that the bullying can get worse if you do that. But if you can actually make them scared, you can turn the table. You need to know some kind of self-defense, not so you can harm others, but so you can defend yourself when others are trying to harm you. At this point, I really wish I learned some kind of martial arts to defend myself, just in case. It reminds me to an old drama I watched: Gokusen. I really wish I could be like Yamaguchi sensei, so I can teach better and care for my students better even though the students might be rough. Well, Yamaguchi is kinda my role-model teacher. Hhe

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Second, and perhaps this is more effective, but maybe effective only when the bully is just verbal, not physical. What you can do is IGNORE. Yup, ignore them. Just agree to whatever they say, implying that “they don’t matter, that what they say doesn’t matter. They’re not that important for you to let them get to/at you.” And, by the way, I found this comic from Twitter. I guess that’s really cool. And 9Gag says, “Embrace your weirdness and these insult will be useless.” And it’s true. I think when the bullies bully us, they’re just exercising their ego. They want people to fear them, they want to be obeyed, they want to be thought as superior. But, no, they’re not. If they insult you and you get angry, that’s probably what they want, so, no, don’t make them happy. They don’t deserve it. But, really, if ignoring them doesn’t work or if the bully gets physical, you should really do the first suggestion. You should be able to stand up for yourself and turn the table.

Sometimes I have wild imaginations, like, for example I imagine the bullying happens to me, and I kinda create a scenario of how I should react. Like, if someone writes a bad thing on my desk or hide my chair so I can’t sit (that’s how Asian classes are usually like, by the way, regarding the seating, i.e. we have “permanent” seats), I can ignore it as if it’s nothing. Perhaps grab a chair nearby (most probably of the one I suspect) or even the teacher’s desk. And if they protest, I’ll just nonchalantly say that my desk is not “sit-able” and that someone has to fix it first if I want to return their desk or chair. If they get angry at me and try to charge at me, I’ll turn wild, perhaps kick the desk, throw the chairs randomly. The message is clear: I am not scared of you. I can be angry, too. And if I want, I can bully you. But I just choose not to. Well, I know I’m just trying to act cool in my imagination. If it happens to me, perhaps I’ll be scared and do nothing, too. I don’t know. But I just can’t let someone try to harm me and do as they please. I mind my own business, they should do too. But anyway, I hope you can defend and stand up for yourself.

If you’re a bully: STOP! Why are you doing that? What are you trying to prove? Aren’t you just trying to hide your insecurity? You think you’re great but you’re actually not. You’re just trying to look great by making others look less or smaller than you. But, well, you know that’s not true, you might look great as people are fearing you, but it doesn’t make you great. Not even a bit. But there’s a good news for you: Deep inside, you might be a good and kind person. So go ahead and apologize to those you bullied, stop, and never bully again. It might be hard but you, too, deserve another chance. You need to feel great without bullying others. You can do that!

Spoilers/Trivia: The 35yo lady couldn’t finish her school in the old days because she was bullied. She tried to stand up for a friend, but the friend left her, and she became a target of bullying herself. She blamed her mother but then the mother died without remembering her, and her mother wrote a happy version of the girl in a diary. Hence, her returning to school was actually to realize what her late mom wrote in the diary. Also, there was this scene that the young her actually wrote her a letter asking if she in the future was happy, and it broke her heart because she felt like she’d failed. At the end, though, she decided to write a letter to her past saying that everything is alright. Everything is gonna be okay.

Will you watch this drama? Let’s just hope that there will come a day when bullying is no more. Aamiin.

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