Maria, tremolos in your voice, you said on the air that you, too, were harassed at school. How old were you ?
I didn’t want to talk about it then, I said to myself, hearing all these testimonies from parents, children, teachers, that talking about bullying at school was important. That if my experience can help some children to (re)build themselves, then I had to talk about it… It happened between my 7 and my 11 years. I was a sickly shy little girl. And as you are still in primary school, the classes do not change, so the harassment has lasted all this time, with some years stronger than others. The luck I had is that I express quite easily when things are going well and when things are not going well. It was my mom who saved me. She went to talk to the teachers and, something we couldn’t do today, the two students who were harassing me. Fortunately too, I had a very good friend who defended me, who had a strong character.
How was this harassment expressed?
Bullying is very insidious. There are stalkers smarter, more treacherous than others. At that time, it happened in the yard, but also when I had to go to the blackboard in class, I heard them laughing, they made me cry. They were pointing at me, saying “look how you’re dressed, how dare you go out like that? Me, I wouldn’t like to have your head!…” .
Physically also they manhandled you?
There were jostling. It can hurt physically but what is terrible is that depending on the sensitivity of the harassed person, what happens on a mental level can hurt as much as a physical attack. The names and faces of these two girls, I will never forget them! What is horrible and terrible with bullying at school is that children can be predators and will pick out the weakest, most fragile student. And they don’t understand what it can do to the bullied child’s heart.
Did this harassment make you so sick that you no longer wanted to go to school?
Yes, I was scared sick. I somatized terribly, I had stomach cramps, headache, I bit my nails until they bled, all that is not trivial.
It was your mother who intervened with the school. How did it go then?
The director told me that if it happened again I had to come and talk to her about it right away. Year after year, I got better. But I will always resent these two girls even if I had no desire for revenge, I just learned not to calculate them.
But you have kept its sequelae?
Of course, it’s something indelible, which has made me fragile forever. Faced with haters on my social networks – fortunately there is very often benevolence – this part of my childhood is awakening. I’ll never understand – let alone when you’re an adult – how you can have fun putting people down!
Unfortunately, and even more today with the weight of the networks, more and more children are harassed and some don’t make it…
Yes. At the time, when we came home, we closed the door and the harassment did not come in. Today, he follows the student everywhere, even in his room which is supposed to be a cocoon. You may have loving parents, but this malaise invades you even at home. And it’s so much easier to criticize on the networks, especially a child. Everyone has a role to play too: no, it’s not cool to participate or turn a blind eye when a friend is being harassed!
By speaking, you help parents and children…
It’s been bugging me for a long time and I wondered what good I could do when I have all these children coming to see me? I looked into associations and in particular that of Tom’s words. These are parents who created this association after discovering a letter from their harassed son, Tom. But he was already too late. As a parent, it’s impossible not to feel guilty and yet there’s nothing we can do about it. Sometimes we say that the child is shy, that it’s adolescence but, open the dialogue
can leave a door open for the child. Following this Thursday’s show, a mother wrote to us: “Thanks to you, my daughter dared to speak”. That’s why I do it. When I hear the story of Louis, who was bullied at school, which ends up in court because the school did nothing to help him, that scandalizes me!
Are you going to continue to work in this direction, with associations for example?
Yes, I would like us to be able to go to schools to talk about it, to get the message across. Be there on the field!