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Vieraskieliset / In-english

Blog: Words that wound

Vieraskieliset / In-english
5.7.2018 6.54

When I send my child­ren to school in the mor­ning, I wish them a good day. I hope they will not need to wor­ry about being ac­cep­ted. I hope they will not be bul­lied. And even more I hope they will not them­sel­ves bul­ly ot­her child­ren. I have me­mo­ries of both being bul­lied and my­self bul­lying ot­her child­ren. Both are po­wer­ful me­mo­ries. I wish to share some of them here.

I re­mem­ber a day in pri­ma­ry school when we pla­yed a game cal­led ‘con­ta­gi­ous il­l­ness’. One of the boys was the ‘sour­ce of con­ta­gi­on’. I can­not exp­lain why he was cho­sen as the vic­tim. I par­ti­ci­pa­ted in the game ea­ger­ly. When the exas­pe­ra­ted boy fi­nal­ly lost his tem­per, he grab­bed my friend’s shirt col­lar so hard that her neck­la­ce broke. We made a big fuss about that though we had first done our best to pro­vo­ke him.

I al­so re­mem­ber that my friends and I were con­temp­tuo­us of ot­her girls in Bib­le Class. We laug­hed at them scorn­ful­ly. We even tal­ked to them un­kind­ly if we hap­pe­ned to meet them bi­king on the road.

I ne­ver got caught about bul­lying. When I was at school, pe­op­le did talk about bul­lying so much, and that word was on­ly used when so­me­o­ne phy­si­cal­ly at­tac­ked anot­her per­son. Qui­et­ly of­fen­si­ve be­ha­vi­or was not even cal­led bul­lying. I think such low-key bul­lying is still of­ten over­loo­ked to­day, as it tends to hap­pen when no adults are around. It is pos­sib­le to hide one’s in­sul­ting ges­tu­res and exp­res­si­ons so well that out­si­ders do not even no­ti­ce them. To­day, it is al­so pos­sib­le to exc­lu­de friends from so­ci­al me­dia groups.

My thin­king chan­ged af­ter an ac­ci­dent that I had in the spring be­fo­re my con­fir­ma­ti­on. My friends and I had gone to spring ser­vi­ces in Ou­lu. I had been ac­ting the role of a tough guy, but this time we were sit­ting in the pew ins­te­ad of loi­te­ring out­si­de. I was touc­hed by the ser­mon. I wan­ted to be­lie­ve. I re­mem­ber the po­wer­ful fee­ling of wan­ting to be part of this flock. The fol­lo­wing day, when co­ming to ser­vi­ces again, I cros­sed a street wit­hout no­ti­cing the ap­p­ro­ac­hing car, which knoc­ked me down.

I was in hos­pi­tal for a long time. My fa­mi­ly and friends came to see me, and I felt many bles­sing hands on my shoul­der. A book writ­ten by a be­lie­ving spe­a­ker be­ca­me dear to me. I even gave that book to the mot­her of the girl in the bed next to mine, who was in­te­res­ted in my faith. While lying there, I had time to think about my be­ha­vi­or and re­mem­ber how ar­ro­gant and dis­dain­ful of ot­hers I had been. I knew that was wrong. I was as­ha­med. That shame is still part of me. I did not be­co­me a saint, but du­ring the fol­lo­wing ye­ar at school my friends and I fol­lo­wed clo­se­ly any ins­tan­ces of bul­lying and in­ter­ve­ned whe­ne­ver we saw signs of rude be­ha­vi­or.

As a mot­her I have told, and will tell over and over again, my child­ren that des­pi­sing and loo­king down on so­me­o­ne will deep­ly wound the ot­her per­son and will al­so make a per­ma­nent wound in one’s own he­art. I have le­arnt my les­son. When I am told about qu­ar­rels bet­ween child­ren, I do not has­ten to de­fend my own child. It is best to find out first what has ac­tu­al­ly hap­pe­ned.

I have al­so wit­nes­sed some si­tu­a­ti­ons where a pa­rent has not wan­ted to be­lie­ve that his or her child could have be­ha­ved bad­ly. In such ca­ses the qu­ar­rel may re­main un­set­t­led and the par­ties un­re­con­ci­led. The guil­ty par­ty will le­a­ve with a bur­den on his or her cons­cien­ce. I know that even a nice and well-be­ha­ved child may bul­ly ot­hers by, for ins­tan­ce, le­a­ving so­me­o­ne out­si­de a group. That child may be ab­le to dis­cuss po­li­te­ly with adults and the­re­by be­co­me ac­cep­ted as a ‘good guy’, alt­hough his or her be­ha­vi­or may be qui­te dif­fe­rent when there are no adults around. Even so­me­o­ne who is con­si­de­red to be friends with eve­ry­bo­dy can be a bul­ly.

Bul­lying and de­ro­ga­to­ry be­ha­vi­or al­so hap­pen among be­lie­vers. As adults we should exp­lain and un­der­li­ne to our child­ren that any dis­res­pect­ful be­ha­vi­or, un­fair­ness, or con­tempt is wrong. We should al­so be mo­dels for our child­ren in that we do not say bad things about ot­her pe­op­le. We should not al­low dis­dain­ful speech even at home bet­ween the fa­mi­ly mem­bers. It is our duty to love and sup­port our own and ot­her child­ren, so that they will not need to seek ac­cep­tan­ce by des­pi­sing ot­hers. And I say these words es­pe­ci­al­ly to my­self.

Text: Vir­pi Mä­ki­nen

Trans­la­ti­on: Sirk­ka-Lii­sa Lei­no­nen

You will find the ori­gi­nal Fin­nish blog post here.