When I was being bullied in secondary school, the bullying started with badmouthing and sometimes slaps to the back of my head. Now, at that point, with the slapping for example, I could have retaliated with a few slaps of my own. No biggie, right? Someone throws a slap, you return with a harder one and that’s that.

BUT, I didn’t do anything. Because I was brought up by parents and teachers who taught that violence was wrong. One teacher in primary school liked to tell us stories of people who befriended their bullies through ignoring beatings. Like if you pretend the beatings weren’t happening, then in some way it never did and eventually bullies will be shamed by your goodness.

Later someone told me she was being abused by her husband at home.

Anyway, so I took the “adult” way. I tolerated the verbal put-downs and slapping. Then one day, the bullies graduated to snatching my bag and throwing it into the rubbish bin. Not the one in the classroom where there was just paper waste, but the one in the canteen with food waste. After that came the requests for protection money because word got around that I was “mentally slow” because I wouldn’t retaliate to any of the bullying.

By then, when the students who belonged to gangs came up with their protection money requests, the situation was too far gone to be solved with just a return slap from me. To stop them, I would probably have to smack someone’s head with a chair or something. Blood would have to be drawn.

Before, there were just some individual assholes who could probably be stopped by slaps and punches. No need for weapons. See where I am getting with this? Prevention is better than cure. Far better for me to have stopped some low-ranking bullies right from the get go with slaps than for the situation to develop into a full-scale protection money racket where blood would have to be drawn with weapons.

Well, inflicting close-to-fatal wounds on another human being was beyond me. So the bullying continued and I coughed up money for the extortionists until they got tired of their games. One silver lining in my dark clouds was that there were too many factions around. I think after a year or so, quarrels between their respective groups got more interesting than picking on a timid victim so in my last 2 years of secondary school, I was left alone.

Even if you disagree with my anti-bullying strategy, please do share your opinions here.

A.S.S. Reader

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