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The Bully Paradox : Confessions of a Bottle Nose Dolphin

Did you know bottle nose dolphins attack and harm innocent marine creatures just because they can? Often these marine animals are smaller and have done nothing to aggravate the dolphins. So what does that make dolphins? BULLIES

If you search for words relating to bullying, you’ll find words like monster, animal, psychopath, brute, sadist. Not very pleasant words. These words disgust me but guess what? All these words relate to me. How? Keep reading and you’ll find out.

Bullying is something very serious in our society today and its effects last years on. One in every five students reports having been bullied within a school year. Approximately 34% of students experience cyber-bullying in their lifetime. Approximately 18% of youth report self-harming at least once, impacting 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 10 boys (Monto, McRee, & Deryck, 2018). Students who experienced bullying or cyber-bullying are nearly 2 times more likely to attempt suicide (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018). Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University. A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. And this is just the youth, there are also adults suffering the aftermath of bullying. All this, and we haven’t even discussed the mental health issues accompanying bullying.

Horrific, right? So why would anyone in their right mind go ahead and bully someone else? The reasons vary from things like low self-esteem, having been bullied before, toxic home environments and stress and trauma among others.

We hear so much from the victims of bullying and it’s heartbreaking. I however, would like to focus on the bullies. What drives one to become a bully? Do they even now that they are a bully? Do they battle with their subconscious over their actions? Do they know how their actions affect the person they’re bullying and the people around them? Do they ever think about what they’re doing?

I think it’s possible to be a bully and not even know that you’re one. How do I know this? Experience!

Pat yourself on the back if you guessed that correctly. At some point in my life, I was a bottle neck dolphin. I was once a bully (only I didn’t know it at the time).

In primary school I used to hang out with a group of girls in my class. We were friends. However, we argued a lot and constantly fought. We’d break up but somehow, we’d always end up making up. So one day, a new girl transferred to our school and was placed in our class. My friends immediately decided that they didn’t like the new girl. I had no feelings towards her; I didn’t hate her, I didn’t love her. She was just there, kinda how you feel about bread, no love no hate, it’s just bread. Whenever I would hang out with my friends and the new girl passed us, my friends would say something mean to her, constantly putting her down. I can’t remember if I did it too. All I know for sure is that I didn’t try and defend her. So technically, I wasn’t any better than my friends.

We went for our Games sessions at Impala Club. During one of the sessions, we spotted the new girl walking alone in the field. That was the perfect opportunity to go to her and make her life even more miserable. The teachers were far away. The only adult who could see us was a lone male customer sitting at the outside sitting of one of the restaurants and even he wasn’t paying attention to us. There were not many people playing there so we went in for the kill. We circled her; she was our prey, we were the bloodthirsty vultures. We called her names, taunted her, made fun of her name, basically, we made her feel like dirt. She was so close to tears, so close. She kept telling us to leave her alone over and over again but who were we to listen. Finally, seeing no way out, she turned to face the restaurant and told us she could see her uncle sitting there. We all turned to look and we saw the same lone customer from before. We called out her bluff. But when she stood up and started waving to him and calling him, we knew we were in trouble. We started apologizing but she was already walking towards him. We took off. I ran! All this while I’m thinking about how her uncle will tell the class teacher and the class teacher will call my parents; a series of unfortunate events. Oh God I was terrified! My mum would kill me. As it turns out, she was lying. She didn’t know who that man was but realized he was her only escape. 

I don’t know if I ever sincerely apologized to her. I also don’t know if my actions emotionally scarred her. If I made her feel like she was not worthy. If she contemplated suicide or self-harm. If she had other issues at home and this was the final straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t know and I may never know. All I know is, I shouldn’t have done it. On top of that, I should have defended her whenever my friends talked smack about her to her face. I should have apologized. But it’s too late for that now, isn’t it?

How did it feel to be a bully? It made me feel like I had power over her. That she would do what I wanted her to do not because she wanted to but because she was afraid of what would happen if she didn’t. Why did I do it? Honestly, I don’t know. I didn’t have issues at home. I had, at that point in my life never experienced bullying. I wasn’t stressed. I can’t tell you why, but I just did. Nobody forced me to. My friends could care less. So my motivation? Your guess is as good as mine.

Let’s try and put a stop to bullying. Some of us already doing a terrible job at being humans so to all the bullies out there, could we redirect our energy to trying to be better humans instead of acting like bottle nose dolphins? One species at a time please! Bullying is not okay.

That’s my take on being a bully. I would love to hear your take and stories on being a bully, especially if you have bullied someone or also if you have experienced bullying.

Shani Mutarura

PACE Alumnus 2018

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