Stand up to your bullies, say former victims

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PETALING JAYA: It seems that when it comes to dealing with bullies, facing them head-on may be more effective than keeping a low profile in the hope of avoiding contact with them.

In interviews with three people who were bullied when they were in school, FMT asked what they did to stop the bullying and how successful they were.

The interviews came in the wake of a news report about a 16-year-old boy suing nine people, including his former headmaster, for RM2 million over a bullying incident last year.

Two of the people interviewed said they stood up to their bullies. The other respondent said she sulked and decided not to draw any attention to herself.

“This girl was upset because my sister was dating her ex-boyfriend. Since her ex-boyfriend wouldn’t allow her to touch my sister, she slapped me instead,” said Nadia Ghafar, who studied in a school in Shah Alam.

“She must have thought that she was a big gangster back then, with a lot of guys backing her up. So she thought she was untouchable. She was wrong.

“After she slapped me, I went to my class crying and I remember telling my friends, ‘You know what? I’m not going to let someone do this to me. I’m going to slap her back.’

“I met the girl and told her that I was going to slap her and she dared me to do it. Without hesitation, I gave her a tight slap across the face. I slapped her so hard she screamed and ran to the toilet.”

Later in the day, Nadia and the bully were called into the discipline teacher’s office and were told to shake hands.

“When we left the discipline teacher’s room, she told me she was going to get her gang to beat me up and I told her to bring it on.

“I waited for her gang for a few days. Then she came to me and apologised and we became friends.”

Abdul Malik Hakim said he was bullied most of his school life until he too decided to make a stand.

“I went to a primary and secondary school in Sri Gombak, where I was bullied from Year 1 up until Form 4,” he told FMT.

“One day, after the school’s morning assembly, we started walking upstairs to our classroom and I felt this guy pushing me. This wasn’t the first time some bully had done something like that, but I decided to make it the last.

“I turned around and pushed him back.

“We got into a fight and I ended it by pushing him into one of those huge black garbage bins they had in the hallways. One of my classmates saw the scene and he asked whether I had gone crazy. I just shrugged and went into my class.

“It was only later that day that I found out I had beaten up one of the biggest bullies in school. My friends told me not to leave for home because his gang of about 30 school boys were waiting at the front gate.

“I stayed in class until I saw from my classroom window that they had all left. That was about 7pm.

“I thought I was going to get a beating the next day and was bracing myself for it, but as it turned out, everyone just left me alone after that.”

The third respondent, who wanted to be identified only as Fatimah, said her method was to try to make herself invisible to her peers.

“I tried my best to stay quiet and invisible. I sat in the back row of the class. I thought that if they couldn’t see me, then I wouldn’t be bullied.

“It didn’t work too well. Sometimes they’d leave me alone, sometimes they’d turn around and throw rubbish at my face.

“A boy once even grabbed at my bosom.”

She complained to her mother about the bosom-grabbing incident, and her mother went to see one of her teachers.

According to Fatimah, the teacher responded by saying, “If she had worn a longer scarf, she wouldn’t have been grabbed.”

“I always knew the teachers wouldn’t be much help, and that’s why I never complained to any of them,” Fatimah said.

Nadia and Malik also said they believed their teachers wouldn’t have been much help.

“I always rationalised in my head that if I went to the teacher and the teacher didn’t do something drastic enough, then the bullying would only get worse,” Malik said.

Nadia agreed.

RM2 million suit filed against school bullies, headmaster