The new school year has started. First day photos have been taken, schoolbags have grown heavy with new books, and the reality of homework and early morning alarm clocks is beginning to set in. The evenings are shortening and the papers are speculating about the chances of an Indian Summer. It's September again...
When the new Indian family moved in and bought the shop, I was selfishly very happy. As a seven year old, I was over the moon that 'proper' Indians had moved in and my mother and I were no longer the only 'Pakis' in the village. They had two children the around same age as me. They were darker than me, they had Indian names, they were Hindu and they owned a shop.
I hope that by sharing my story and helping prompt the start of a conversation about bullying, other people may feel empowered to share their own story or make an effort to not turn a blind eye to bullying. One of the greatest maintaining factors of silence, making others aware of what's going on and seeking support can enable individuals to get through being bullied.
By the time a child reaches secondary school, they have begun to learn the rules that will help them to survive their time at school. Fitting in with everyone else is encouraged and the child is advised not to give people a reason to pick on them. If you are fat, lose weight; if you are shy, be more outgoing; if you are loud, be quieter...
For the last twenty two of my thirty one years on this planet, bullying has been on my mind. I've suffered it, in some circumstances I've done it, and now with two children I consider its practise. It's almost never far from the news and again it seems another British teenager has lost their life because of it.
Schools, you either love them or hate them, a little bit like Marmite I guess. Some say school years are the best years of your life, some even say school reminds them of their youth. But what do you think of when you reminisce about your youth? Do you see school as a good thing or do you feel let down by your school?
Being diagnosed with Mental Health, in particular Depression and Anxiety at the age of 14 years was not easy to cope with. I worried about telling other people that I had Mental Health, it was never taught on the school curriculum and it appeared to me at the time, that many wouldn't understand the condition.
Who cares about lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people and their lives and accomplishments? We all should. But why? During LGBT History Month, we might learn about LGBT people who have made or continue to make a difference to our world. We can learn about their accomplishments and how they have changed science, literature, or many other fields.
What groups that call for tackling the use of such words constantly fail to realise is that, over the course of time, language changes. Just as gay used to mean someone filled with joy or happiness, it has changed to refer to homosexuals and to describe something in a negative way. Language evolves with society.
Something I kept coming across in my research was the at-first-surprising notion that many young people don't consider cyber-bullying to be bullying. They know what bullying is - or rather, they know what some bullying activities are - and they know that stuff can happen online, but they don't always see that as bullying. Why?
Aside from these debates around initialism and labels, I was also party to a number of high powered debates around the use of word 'phobia' in homophobia, transphobia etc. Again there are many valid points to be made around what phobias are and what they are not and we could debate that for a very long time without actually changing anything.