It was a sad week.
After a long waiting and long search the 20 year-old student from Crete island who had vanished into thin air a month ago outside his school in Ioannina, was found dead. He had committed suicide after having been abused and bullied by some of his colleagues at school.
Having a student son of the same age had made me think of that young man all the time. I wanted him to be found. I wanted him to be alive and see how much people loved him apart for his awful silly bullies at school. But he was found dead and in fact he had been dead all this time that people were looking for him. Sad, so sad!
Bullying has become the most commomnly used word these days around here. Everyone talks about bullying. At schools, at colleges, in the army, at work, in our society.
And everyone wonders what should be done. What has led to that type of behaviour?
I was sad to hear that some scientists exclaimed that the last decade bullying has developed into a life threatening behaviour mainly due to the financial crisis in Greece!
Then I must remember wrongly that I had been bullied at High school when I was 15, so many many years ago, by my classmates. They called me names and didn't let me speak in class. They had created a nickname for me and were whispering it every time I tried to open my mouth and talk, to them or to my friends or in class to teachers.
For them it was fun! For me it was a nightmare. I never really had a huge sense of humour but I couldn't find it funny! I found it disgusting and it made me sad.And it added to my lack of self confidence. But it also made me stronger.
I never thought I wouldn't go back to school though. I never considered committing suicide because of their behaviour.
And by trying to be friendly with them in the end we managed to come closer, we actually managed to become friends with my bullies. We managed to be in normal speaking terms and now when we meet in the street after so many years we make fun of those days.
But it isn't the same for everyone.Not everyone can stand it.Others are more fragile.And this young man's bullying was of a very worse type. His bullies abused him physically and verbally for a very long time.
And there we have questions like what is society doing about it, what his teachers did about it. I won't judge and I won't defend anyone. It is the role of the police and the courts to find out if his teachers and the people around him did or didn't do what they should have.
As a teacher in a Primary State School I admit that I have met with cases of bullying even in such young age. Can you believe it that there are 1st graders who bully their classmates? In our school we do our best to change this and protect everyone, the bullied and the bullies and change their behaviour. But if parents do nothing at home and simply abuse their children or even come bullying the teachers at school then their children will become bullies too. Apples fall under the apple tree they say, in good and in bad occasions unfortunately.
Vangelis Yakoumakis is considered the first victim of bullying in Greece! I don't know if he is the first, I just hope he is the last. Today was his funeral.Rest in peace dear sweet young man!