Bullying: Just cower and take it?

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  • Tuesday, 20 Jun 2017

JUST take what the bullies give you and hope their anger will die down quickly.

Try to shield your head and vital organs. Let them punch you in the back or strike your legs. Wait for them to get tired.

Don’t defend yourself. Don’t block their punches! Because it will enrage them and they will attack from all sides at once.

Never shout back because they will rain blows on you continuously.

When my friend was 14 years old, he was bullied constantly by a group of five older boys. After a while, he learned that the best way to survive the torment was to do the above.

“They would shove me into an unoccupied classroom during recess and punch me repeatedly,” he told me.

My friend is now a 27-year-old mass communications graduate. He never saw those ruffians after finishing school and we are glad he grew into the mild-mannered gentleman we all love and respect.

Where did we go wrong? Why do we keep hearing of school- children using fists to settle their differences?

Should our children be taught self-defence? But how to fight when outnumbered four or five to one?

“You don’t fight. You run,” said a colleague who spent many years learning taekwondo and karate. He confessed to having his share of brawls in his youth.

He said that unlike one-to-one combat, group or street fighting was savage because the fighters tended to become frenzied and would strike harder than they intended.

His reply shook my perceptions of the world. We were talking about children! Not fighters in combat! But he was being realistic about the violence.

World Health Organisation has a fact sheet on youth violence showing an estimated 200,000 wrongful deaths among youths aged 10 to 29 each year globally.

The dictionary defines a bully as ‘a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people’.

I too was a victim of bullying as a schoolgirl.

My classmates lashed out at me with insults and threats. They seized my crayons and colour pencils and dared me to tell the teachers.

They did not hit me but 20 years on, I still remember their nasty remarks which had a lasting impact on my psyche.

Anyway, what happened to my friend went beyond that and what happened to T. Nhaveen and navy cadet officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain proved fatal.

Nhaveen, 18, was attacked on June 10 by people identified as his ex-schoolmates. He died last Thursday.

Zulfarhan, 21, was beaten and tortured for two days – May 20 and 21 – allegedly by his university mates. He died on June 1.

Covering Nhaveen’s wake as a journalist was heart-wrenching.

I cried with his mother when she pleaded with cabinet minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim to never let bullying happen again for the sake of other parents. That is a mother for you. My deepest condolences.

Nhaveen and Zulfarhan’s attackers were arrested and the law will deal with them.

But I feel no joy in knowing they face murder charges.

We must all be ashamed to have young Malaysians tried for murder.

Youth violence is a societal problem because “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (Edmund Burke, philosopher).

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