An accident & emergency department in the north of England last Monday admitted a 13 year-old girl with injuries that implied self-harming. The motivations for young people to do this are varied, but in this case it was being bullied at school that led to the hospital admission. It is disheartening that occurrences like this are increasingly commonplace today.
Periodically, stories like this make the TV news where a young person goes so far as to commit suicide to end the pain of this kind of abuse. Thankfully, it wasn’t the case here, firstly because the girl has been safely taken home to the family by her mother, but secondly because of the media clatter surrounding the Rolf Harris child abuse verdict it was destined not even to make a blip on the radar.
The scandal attached to the sex-crimes of Messrs Rolf Harris, Jimmy Savile, Stuart Hall, Paul Gadd et al are shocking and nobody would deny the criminality of their actions and the immorality. But there are two questions arising…
First, can one really separate the misdemeanours of paedophilia and bullying – given the life-altering trauma both can cause the victims? Second, does society accept that both are the fault of adults – irrespective of the fact that bullying at schools is carried out by children? Playground bullies must learn their behaviour from somewhere, and this is down to their parents – if not due to direct influence, then at least by parents’ failure to intercede where their children are being influenced by others to behave this way.
And how similar are the motivating factors behind both phenomena – insecurity, power, dominance, ego, displacement of violence? And once these behaviours are learned by people as children, do they inevitably become the norm for people as adults. If so, the abuse is twofold, as it goes from one generation to the next.
It is perpetuated even in the transitional phase from childhood to adulthood. A young woman I know just entering 2nd year at university tells how she has been bullied and emotionally manipulated by a fellow fresher. And wouldn’t you, know it…? The perpetrator herself is the victim of abuse at home from mother and step-father.
Child abuse is still child abuse, whoever commits it. Whether it is of a sexual, physical or mental and emotional nature, the victim is still young and vulnerable. The effects on the victim are still deep and long-reaching. But the culpability is still questionable.
You might argue, the playground bully is not fully to blame but he or she is really just another child-abuser.
And if at first, you think the comparison between bullying and paedophilia to be illegitimate or even odious then consider this…
Once the schoolchildren behind the bullying of the aforementioned 13 year-old discovered she had been admitted to hospital (circumstances sufficiently worrisome to cause most people to pause and consider the gravity of the situation and back off) they actually stepped up their campaign of hate via cyber-bullying, texting and sharing the most vile things like cut deeper, and go on, finish the job. This implies to me a degree of psychopathy on the human scale, or a level of atavistic predation found in animals.
All qualified head-doctors, teachers and law-enforcement professionals please feel free to contribute.