The bullies and I
A youth recalls surviving bullying in school and his choice to keep it to himself
"In 8th grade, there used to be a group of boys at school who would never complete their work on time. So, during the submission day, they'd snatch my work and submit it as their own; I couldn't go against them. Then I'd do it all over again. The same boys would hand me all their books when we had a lot of homework and make me write them. They'd threaten to beat me if I resisted and throw away all my books. I thought I was safe if I did what they asked for.
Since I was good at school, the teachers would praise me. Once, a teacher showed my assignment as an example to all the students in the class. While returning home, three boys approached me; one kicked my bag, the other pulled my gho, and the third took out my books and threw them all over the place. They cussed at me, while I just sat down out of fear. Crying, I picked up my stuff and ran home.
Another time, a group of senior school students locked me up in an abandoned building on my way to school. That was how most of my school years went by.
As soon as school got over, I'd be the first to leave. I'd hide in buildings and under the staircase to avoid being targeted. I have memories of sharing the bullying with my parents, and they blamed me instead. So, I learned to keep things to myself. Further, we were a family of six siblings, and my parents had a tough time providing for us. My parents often threatened to pull us out of school out of frustration with the financial burden. But I loved studying and feared the worst if they got to hear anything about the bullying at school.
Soon, I became withdrawn and hardly made any friends. I'd avoid interacting with weak kids like myself and try to hang out with the boys more to avoid getting bullied. After 9th grade, I went to a boarding school. There, I actively sought out the protection of the seniors by making them my adopted siblings. This was my way to survive the bullies. All those years, I feared that nobody would listen to me if I shared about the bullying at school.
Further, I thought the problem would only escalate, and nothing good would happen. So I never told anyone, not even a teacher. I wonder if my parents had been more interactive and had a conversation with me, dropped and picked me up from school, would I've faced less bullying? Also, I thought that my teachers knew from the signs and expression on my face; if only they had intervened and chosen to find out, it could have prevented things from getting worse.”
The 2016 VAC study found 23 per cent of children in Bhutan experienced physical violence by their peers, mostly boys of the same age or older.
If you are a student, parent or teacher, you can take action to create safe environments where children and young people can live and learn without fear.
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