My beloved seven-year-old nephew has been a victim of bullying in his primary school.
It started early this year, when Dylan borrowed a pencil sharpener from the boy who sits next to him. Somehow, he dropped the sharpener onto the floor and spoilt it and the Bully made a big fuss about it. The matter was brought to the teacher’s attention, who duly reported it to Dylan’s mother. She paid the Bully some money to get a replacement and we thought that was it.
As the months went on, the Bully started extorting money from my darling boy. He would, under the pretext of complaining to the teacher about some non-existent misdeed, force Dylan to buy lunch and snacks for him during recess using Dylan’s money. Last night, puzzled by Dylan’s vague answers as to where he had spent the $8 she had given him to buy socks, my aunt (his grandmother) started peeling the layers off Dylan’s world. That was when he confessed that he had been coerced into buying lunch everyday for the nasty little cretin. Who is a bully at seven. I still cannot handle the truth.
Now, this is a boy who is usually chatty and full of drama. For him to hide a secret for so long must have been traumatizing for a child who is not yet seven. What disturbs me even more is that this has been happening under the teacher’s nose for a good seven months in a school that’s renowned and prestigious (it’s in Punggol, take a guess). His parents, too, should be questioning how something like this could have slipped off their radar.
Needless to say, this has caused a huge uproar in the family. My mother is puzzled at how bullying can occur in a place that’s deemed to be a nurturing institution. And because depression is an ailment that runs in the family, she has, surprisingly, been advising my aunt to send my darling boy to a psychologist.
Which shows how far a journey my mother has come along. Because when I had spoken to her years ago about how I had suffered emotional abuse under the hands of a teacher, she would only say that I had probably exaggerated the entire episode and that the teacher was doing her best to teach me. Had I dreamt up those days of needless taunts and cruel jibes which had caused me to think about suicide almost every single day of my life? I don’t think so.
Now, my main concern is my nephew. I don’t want him to grow up as messed up as we did simply because our parents didn’t understand how painful incidents like these can scar someone emotionally for the rest of his life. I want him to embrace everyday as if it’s an adventure and not a road to be feared. I want him to be a happy child, a child whom we love to bits because of his precociousness.
I have told my cousins (his parents) that they need to go down to the school and speak to his teacher. Remove Dylan from the Bully and put him in a class far, far away from that boy, who ought to be prescribed counselling. If things don’t improve, we will lodge formal complaints to the Ministry of Education and create a stink, if necessary. This is a child’s life we are talking about – his future is yet to be mapped and this should not be a defining factor. He may be a helpless victim, but as adults, we have the power to change things and we should.
Bullying must not be condoned.