Confession: I was once a bully.
In my first year in high school, I used to put freshly-picked grass on my classmate’s desk and call him “Potro.”
Potro is a name of a horse in one of the stories I read in our Filipino class. I called him Potro after he was assigned to act as a horse in a class role play.
I had a good laugh every time I see my classmate’s reaction each morning when he finds fresh greens on his desk: a perfect mix of horror, disbelief and a little bit of humor. I thought it was okay. After all, it was meant to be a joke, right?
Bullies take many forms. He might be that big stooge who’s responsible for broken underpants and walks of shame. Or the teacher who forcibly sells cured meat and pinipig polvoron for a “plus point” in class. He might be that colleague who constantly defaces your Facebook with unwittingly harsh comments. She might even be the mindless name-calling classmate sitting next to you.
For my 10-year-old brother Kobe, he is the fat boy who eats his packed lunch. “Tani, don’t pack delicious baon kasi kakainin lang ‘yan ng classmate ko.”
It broke my heart. Saan napunta ‘yung mga niluto kong tuna & mushroom pasta, o ‘yung ginawa kong grilled cheese sandwich? Sinong uminom ng Chuckie? Sayang lang pala ‘yung Yakult at jellyace. Punyeta.
This is the reason why I wrote a report about bullying. (Watch: http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/video/205711/balitanghali/mga-batang-bully-at-kanilang-biktima-kapwa-kailangan-ng-tulong)
Bullies are loud, egocentric and aggressive. They feel entitled, drawn to power and authority. They may have deep-seated issues that they can not release so they turn to their victims for some sick refuge.
Victims of bullies, on the other hand, are introverts–meek, perceived weak and have low confidence.
These are the generic, textbook characteristics as described by a psychiatrist I interviewed. But there are two crucial things that victims do not often know about bullies:
1. The victims themselves are the bullies’ source of power. Walang mang-bubully kung walang nagpapa-bully. That is why the first step in overcoming bullies is to say NO.
Pumalag ka. Lumaban ka. Sabihin mong ‘di mo gusto ang ginagawa niya.
2. Bullies are afraid of authorities. They are afraid of people who have greater influence and power. ‘Wag matakot magsumbong. If you don’t have the muscle to fight, then look for someone who can back you up. There’s no shame in seeking help.
For some, bullying might be a petty problem. Biruan lang ‘yan. Mga bata lang ‘yan.
But that’s where they are wrong. Bullies, with their unstable temperament, flashes of anger, lies and manipulation are more likely to become criminals in adulthood. Sometimes they grow up to be the horrible bosses we know; or the racist, gender-discriminating scumbag we all hate; and even turn out to be the hot-headed, violent wife-beater your aunt talks about. (Read: http://www.bbc.com/news/education-23756749)
Victims of bullies, on the one hand, grow up with self-esteem issues like inferiority complex. If this isn’t serious enough, being bullied as a child can even raise the odds of having heart attacks! (Read: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2626747/School-bully-victims-higher-levels-blood-protein-linked-strokes.html)
So you see bullying is real and its effects are even more so. Bullying can scar children pretty bad, and it may take years, even decades, for the wounds to heal.
P.S. To my classmate, please consider this blog post as my apology. Sorry na po. 😦