The letter I am going to read to you was written by a teenage girl who was being bullied. It could just have easily been a teenage boy. I asked her to write to her bully, to explain how she was feeling, and this is what she wrote.
To my Bully,
I don’t really know why I am writing this letter because I will never have the courage to give it to you.
I am not sure why you do what you do to me. I really cannot think of what it is I have done to make you hate me the way that you do. I wish that my days could be different at school. I wish I didn’t feel so scared. I wish I was brave and courageous and able to ignore you like some of the others do. But something inside me won’t let me ignore you and you seem to know exactly what to do or say to hurt me, to make me blush or stumble over my words or to make me want to cry and scream and ask you to stop. Just stop being so mean, just leave me alone.
I get up on school days filled with dread. I feel sick and usually can’t eat my breakfast. The nerves in my stomach make me feel hollow. It’s not like exam nerves – they are different. This feeling that I have every morning is pure fear because I know what’s coming, I know where you will be, and I know you will be waiting for me.
In the car I can’t speak. I can’t tell my mum – she would worry so much and would probably come into school to report what is happening. I can’t put that on her when she has so many other things to worry about.
As we pull up at school, and we say goodbye, I sometimes wonder if that will be the last time I will see her, because the truth is, I feel like I want to disappear. You make me feel like there is no way out, no hope that you will ever stop, and I don’t know if I can keep going much longer.
As I walk into school, I know what to expect. You will see me, shove me, laugh at me, get the others to laugh at me too. You will sit in my favourite place in class so that I have to sit on my own at the front where I can’t see what you are doing but I can tell that you are whispering about me, making comments just loud enough for me to hear but quiet enough that the teacher doesn’t.
I used to be outgoing, I used to take part in classroom discussions, I used to audition for the plays, and I used to enjoy debating and public speaking. I used to look forward to school. But you have steadily taken all that away. And you are so careful not to get caught. You are popular, funny, confident and cheeky with the teachers. You have lots of friends who follow you around and watch as you torment me. They don’t do anything even though I think sometimes that they feel sorry for me. I just wish I had someone on my side, I wish I had someone who cared enough to help.
My skin is getting bad again because I am so stressed and I am losing weight because I’m not eating breakfast because I feel sick and I hate coming into lunch in case you are there. I try to find reasons not to go to school but there are only so many times that I can have period pain or headaches before my mum gets suspicious.
I want to talk to someone and ask for help but I am so afraid that things will get worse. You seem so powerful, and I feel so weak and pathetic. I look in the mirror and can’t see me anymore. I wish I could disappear altogether. Then at least I would not have to face you anymore.
I was able to help this girl but there are many others who have or have had feelings like this because of the unkindness they experience from others. We can make a difference, but it takes courage. If you are a bully, perhaps knowing how you make your victim feels will help you to change what you do. If you are a bystander, become an upstander and challenge unkindness when you see it. If you are being bullied, there are so many people in this school who are ready to help you. Please reach out and I promise you that things will change for the better.