Accusing Former Tormentors

After my previous post, Erika recommended that I watch a recent TV programme. I won’t repeat the link here, as most of you won’t understand it, but I’m devoting this post to it.

In the programme, three people in their forties return to the schools where they were bullied to confront their former bullies. The former bullies – two of them, in each case – are not told whom they’re going to meet in advance and have no idea what’s going to happen. The hero (that’s how they’re described in the programme) enters the room and initiates a discussion about how they suffered as children.

In each case, the former bullies react in a different way. In one, a woman, who doesn’t remember the actions attributed to her, says, “If I hit you, there must have been a reason.” Later, she tells the hero, “You need to think what you did to make children hit you.”

In another case, a man, who remembered it happening, says, “You asked for it,” meaning that the hero behaved in such a way that bullying was inevitable.

In the third case, the bullies admitted that the bullying took place and apologised.

I found the programme fascinating, but I’m not sure I agree with the way it was organised or with all the conclusions viewers were encouraged to draw. When you’re accused of something, especially something you don’t remember doing, and especially when the accusation is sprung on you without warning, you generally do your best to defend yourself. Those people might have thought differently after reflection, but they weren’t given time for that.

Nearly forty years had passed since the events described. The people had all changed since then. I don’t think it was fair to blame those people for what happened when they were young children who didn’t know what they were causing.

The suggestion that the boy asked for the bullying, or brought it on himself, was dismissed as ridiculous, but I suspect it was true – it certainly was in my case. I came to expect to be bullied and so I behaved in a way that would make it almost inevitable – not intentionally, of course.

Another thing I didn’t like about the programme was its implication that all bullying includes physical violence.

BUT there were parts I liked and agreed with completely. The fact that bullying can influence future profession, life style, country of residence and more. The importance of talking about what happened.

So if a lot of people watched that programme, I think that was good, because it showed that the effects of bullying go much further than the playground. I wish there were a simple solution. Any solution has to be based on more education and more adult involvement. Beyond that, I don’t know what can be done to prevent bullying.