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Content warning: bullying at school.

I was not popular with my classmates. The unpleasantness started in 5th grade, my first year at the school where I would study until graduating from high school1. One spring morning after a physical training class, a friend I'd made that year whispered to me that two of our other classmates were going to play hooky for the rest of the day. The elder brother of one of these girls was going to take all three of their coats from the cloak room and then they would scram. "The asked me to join them," she added, "but I am not feeling very well, so I will go to the school nurse instead, and see if she would allow me to go home early."

They did as she'd told me, and the three girls and one boy, whom I did not know, disappeared from the afternoon classes. To the credit of our teachers, their absence was noticed almost at once, as was the lack of their coats, although I do not know how the latter was possible: our cloak room was not separated by class or year, but rather, a giant mishmash of clothing with coats hanging on top one another in winter when there were not enough pegs. And so during the last class of the day, the head teacher and one of her deputies entered our classroom and asked whether anyone knew where the truant duo were, because the teachers were worried and going to call their parents next if nobody did. In a flash, I imagined my own mother's reaction to a call from school saying that I was missing, and did not hesitate to say in front of everyone: "[My friend] told me they were going to skive off."

I have always known that I was right to expose my classmates' plan, but as you can probably guess, my relationship with most of the class soured after the "tattling". The tension was not particularly overt, and expressed mostly in shunning and small other things which, being the late bloomer and introvert, that I was, almost did not bother me, even though they have certainly delayed my proper blooming in self preservation.

My classmates don't really talk to me outside of class or invite me with them into mischief? Fine, I don't like to talk, and don't care to smoke, drink beer or get into other trouble anyway. My assigned partner on the duty roster2 does not wish to wash the classroom's floors with me when our turn comes and suggests we split and do it separately twice less frequently? No problem. Twice less often is great, and it does not particularly bother me that the chore takes a while to do alone and her other friends quickly and efficiently help my partner out when it is her turn on duty.

There was, however, one thing my classmates did and the teachers did not stop that I will never forget. In 7th grade, one of the four classes in our parallel3 was disbanded and its pupils were sent to the other three classes. One of the new–old students that joined our class after the split was a prize asshole whose primary entertainment for years had been choosing a girl in his class and tormenting and bullying her in not subtle but neither entirely overt ways. I was later told that all of his previous victims ended up in hysterics at various points, and one, maybe two of them transferred to other schools.

You have already guessed. My classmates (I do not know and have no wish to learn who exactly) sicked him on me as his next, and last, victim. Last, because he never made it from secondary to high school. Last also because unlike those other girls (whose names I equally do not know and do not wish to learn) I did not crack, shed a single tear or transfer anywhere. I was miserable. I was uncomfortable. I avoided entering classrooms before the teachers arrived. But I remained steady.

I do not know why I was different. Things that he did to me... he never laid a finger on me physically, and the verbal intimidation did not work well because the arse was a full head shorter than me with a generally unkempt appearance and greasy hair. He was disgusting, repulsive and annoying, not scary. Once, he spat on my school diary4, but it was in a plastic cover and no worse for the wear; another time, he wouldn't let me lay my books out on the desk waving his feet over it and dirtying the surface of the desk with the soles of his boots until the teacher arrived, and those were the worst occurrences.

Abuse is abuse. You cannot be lucky yours was not worse than it used to be. I survived mine, it is all that matters.

I will never forget it to my classmates, but I will never forgive it to my teachers. I did not learn about the lickspittle's other victims until after graduating from high school, and maybe that was for the best. At that time, one of the teachers told my mother about the situation, adding that they, the teachers had admired my resilience, and that it had stepped the situation from becoming even worse.

The question that I would dearly love to spit in the teachers' collective face is this: If I was not the only one, if the others had suffered as much and more, if there were enough of the victims for one or two to transfer, why was he not expelled? Why was the mental state of several innocents less important than the doubtful future of someone undeniably guilty?

1In Russia, all 11 years of school, primary (1–4), middle (5–9) and high (10–11), are often taught in the same building.
2The duty roster is a list of the class in pairs, and, rarely, trios of friends. Each pair is on duty one day in as many school days as there are pairs (there were 23 children in our class, so everyone went on duty roughly every two weeks). The duties include seeing to the state of the classroom black boards, opening the window at recess when it's stuffy and putting chairs on desk and swiping and washing the floor of the classroom assigned to your class at the end of the day.
3All the classes in the same year are called a parallel. The classes are numbered 1A, 1B, etc. In some schools, the worse the student, the "larger" letter class they are assigned to. There were 6 or 7 classes in our parallel when I entered primary school, 4 in 5th grade in my new school, and of those, only 2 remained in high school, many kids leaving for working schools after the 9th grade.
4The official school diary is where the teachers write your current grades and the final grades each term, where you write down your homework assignments and where the teachers may write notes on your behaviour for your parents. The parents are supposed to sign it for your every week.


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 27th, 2017 03:03 pm (UTC)
ConCrit is welcome.

I hope needing to introduce so many notes did not make the entry too heavy. I am also not familiar enough with other education systems to tell if these notes were excessive or insufficient :).
Mar. 27th, 2017 03:38 pm (UTC)
but I will never forgive it to my teachers. exactly. it's inexcusable from teachers; adults who are supposed to know better.

i myself was abused at school but with me it actually was my teachers abusing me rather than the other children. i did not speak the first language of this country back then, just english, and as a result, the teachers would verbally and sometimes physically abuse me (they did verbally and physically abuse a lot of other students too i will add), and make a point of stating repeatedly how stupid i was etc. also, xenophobia was (still is) a big issue in this country, so they would say things like that too. when my friends in class would try and help me with the language, the teachers would hit them and blame me for that.
in secondary school a friend of mine was bullied. she went to the headmistress (who never did anything about the bullies because she just didn't care) and she told my friend to "do something about it yourself and stop making yourself a victim". absolutely disgusting in my opinion.

i'm sorry you experienced this and i'm angry on your behalf that the teachers did nothing.
Mar. 27th, 2017 03:42 pm (UTC)
Sorry to hear about this.
I'm similar to you. I was also bullied at school and also dealt with it as an introvert. Kept quiet and pretended it didn't bother me. I didn't really think that it affected me much but in hindsight it probably has done.
I pray you have peace from yours now.
Mar. 27th, 2017 04:29 pm (UTC)
I didn't really think that it affected me much but in hindsight it probably has done.
I thought the same, but then in hindsight realize that it did. Admitting that it did and talking about it, a little, especially the first time I allowed myself to do so took a load of my shoulders.

Thank you x.
Mar. 27th, 2017 07:11 pm (UTC)
I was bullied too and it came from a similar place, a very short ruffian who was probably intimidated that I was probably a whole foot taller than him. The teacher did nothing, but I'm not sure if she was oblivious to it. I was bullied by various boys in school, that one was last and the worst. He claimed that I "talked shit about his friend"- someone I never even heard of. I don't really have violent tendencies, but then I wished I was more like my mom because whenever she got teased by boys in school, she would literally just beat them up LOL. She was an early bloomer and boys would sometimes tease her about how "developed" she was, but then they'd think twice about saying something to her. Even if I was violent, I couldn't get away with that, the teachers back then didn't do anything about that, probably just laughed. In the early 2000s, I'd be at best suspended.
Mar. 27th, 2017 09:27 pm (UTC)
I'm so sorry you had to go through this! I was bullied in school as well. The kids picked on me because of my weight, my hair, and anything else. My hair was really curly, and kids called me afro, and threw pieces of paper at my hair. For years, I felt like the word "afro" was a dirty, horrible word.
Mar. 28th, 2017 09:18 pm (UTC)
There should be a special circle in hell for school (and other) bullies. That was an awful experience to endure. In our local (US) schools they have a lot of anti-bully posters, etc., with zero tolerance policies, but I wonder how effective it is. So much of the bullying takes place on social media. I enjoyed the footnotes because I love reading about life as in Russia.
Mar. 30th, 2017 04:19 am (UTC)
Teachers are supposed to protect the children. :/
Mar. 30th, 2017 09:03 pm (UTC)
I am sorry to hear about the bullying. One would hope that teachers would do something about problem cases like his.
Mar. 30th, 2017 11:41 pm (UTC)
It's always distressing to hear about bullying. Far too many of us have endured it. Far too few of us have been the bullies. And yet it seems to not be something that we can rid ourselves of. It continues, even as adults...especially online. I think the best thing we can do is to stand up when others are being wrongly treated.
Apr. 1st, 2017 12:08 pm (UTC)
I am appalled at the teachers really. I am sorry to know that you experienced this but I am really proud of you that you didn't crack under pressure. (That's a great character trait :) ) *Hugs*

Also, I liked the footnotes it does help to know things better.
Apr. 1st, 2017 08:17 pm (UTC)
Those teachers should've stepped in and done something (in my opinion). I'm glad you had resilience, but dealing with that behavior day after day shouldn't be a part of a child's school experience. Good entry!
Apr. 2nd, 2017 07:53 pm (UTC)
This is really important. What you've done with this one, I like very much. There are few places where the "Abandon Hope" mantra works better than a school where teachers do not attempt to deal with the bullying that exists right on the surface. It's a worthy indictment.

My favorite part of this was the "Abuse is abuse. You cannot be lucky yours was not worse..." line--that's super important. We overlook the incidents that lead to atrocities when we only focus on atrocities, and it all hurts because abuse is inherently corruptive.

Anyway, I always like your stuff, but I think this is my favorite.

Edited at 2017-04-02 07:54 pm (UTC)
Apr. 2nd, 2017 09:46 pm (UTC)
My fifth grade experience was me against the school, so I completely relate to your circumstances, although the reasons were different. I was despised by everyone because I was from a different ethnic group, and yes, students and teachers ganged up on me all the time.

So sorry you had to endure that torture.
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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