Breaking the silence on bullies

Breaking the silence on bullies

'YOU'RE FAT'

Every day for four years of secondary school, bullies would verbally abuse him because of his weight.

It bothered him so much that he even contemplated suicide. Fortunately, a friend talked him out of it.

Jason (not his real name), now 17, said he used to weigh 60kg when he was 1.5m tall and became the target of school bullies.

He said he would "cry on the spot" every time he heard the words "you're fat".

He told The New Paper in a phone interview yesterday: "I knew I was fat but why did they have to keep bringing it up? Why insult me?"

The bullies would also rally others to join in. He overheard one boy saying that they should "make him cry at least once every day".

Initially, there were three bullies in his class. But his teary reactions to their taunts made him such an easy target that students in other classes joined in.

By Secondary 4, he was being tormented by about 15 bullies who would hurl hurtful words at him daily.

He was once told by a bully at recess time: "You know you're fat, then why don't you die? If you die, you won't be hungry."

Jason told him to stop. When the boy refused, he lunged at him to slap him. But the bully quickly overpowered him and pinned him down, "like in wrestling".

"He acted as if he won the fight, then he let me go," said Jason.

Teachers at his neighbourhood school in Bishan were not aware of the fight. As with many victims of bullying, Jason preferred to keep silent about his plight. (See report on facing page.)

He put the idea of changing schools out of his head as he did not want to trouble his parents, who told him to ignore the bullies.

His teacher also said the same thing when Jason eventually told him about the bullying.

"The teacher told me to learn how to take their jokes better and ignore them. But I didn't know how I could avoid them every day," he said.

"I approached my teachers (about getting counselling) but they told me not to bother them."

Jason, who now weighs only about 50kg and is 1.8m tall, said he is no longer bullied because the environment at Nanyang Polytechnic is "way better".

He said: "It doesn't happen any more to me today but I will always remember it as this is not something that can be easily forgotten."

'YOU'RE TOO SMART'

She was harassed for being the brightest student in her batch, scoring A1s for six out of seven subjects.

Only after another student topped the school the next year did the bullying stop.

Sarah (not her real name) said the bullying began after she started Secondary 2. She was 14.

She said the bullies would make snide remarks about her or give disapproving looks.

"I thought they were just jealous of me and it would stop after a while, but they kept picking on me for half-a-year. I had no idea why," she said.

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