The more I learn about bullying and mobbing, the more I realize that what I endured in Oakley schools went way beyond bullying. In other words, I wasn’t only bullied. I was mobbed.
Most people associate mobbing with the workplace and yes, mobbing does occur at work. However, it also occurs in schools. And a child or teen can be mobbed so intensely that his/her entire class and other classes above and below them will be out to severely hurt that child. I know this from firsthand experience.
When you’re mobbed at school or anywhere, it’s the feeling of being held hostage. You live in constant terror and there are days when you wonder if you’ll make it back home at the end of the school day because the death threats are real. Adults would fear for their lives if they were getting constant threats of being killed, that’s a given. But imagine what it does to a teenager who is still a child by all accounts.
Imagine what it does to a young person whose mind is still developing- a teenager who doesn’t quite have the concrete thinking skills nor the processing abilities to better deal with the situation. It’s hard enough for an adult to deal with being mobbed and many adults don’t know how to cope with it, so, how can we expect a kid to be able to withstand that kind of pressure? Can you imagine how tough it is for a child?
Imagine the sheer terror, the shame, the hopelessness, and the helplessness that poor boy or girl feels. Imagine how alone in the fight they feel when the adults, who are supposed to be there to protect them, turn their backs on that child and refuse to help, support, or even listen to them.
Imagine the gut-level humiliation and hurt a teenager feels when even a few of their teachers, who are supposed to be the adults, join their classmates in bullying and mobbing them. I had a small handful of teachers who did the same to me- one during the seventh, one during the eighth, and one during the eleventh grade. And let me tell you, it got so bad that I was almost driven to drop out of school and to suicide!
Back then, there wasn’t a name for this type of horrific bullying, so, they didn’t call it mobbing. This made it much more difficult to describe and explain what was happening. Without a name, the experience can be felt but never articulated because people don’t know how to describe it.
Once you can put a name to a situation that’s so difficult to experience and even harder to explain, it makes it so much easier to call out and talk about because it gives you a label to arrange your experiences around. With a name, the memories can take shape and come together. Then, your story can unfurl because you now have a foundation from which it can build.
With an experience as complex as getting mobbed, giving it a name is crucial.
For twenty-six years, I have researched bullying front, backwards and sideways- I have read countless books, articles, and victim testimonies. During the mid ‘90s, I came across a magazine article about a boy who was relentlessly bullied at his school. From this article, I finally got the answers to so many questions that had, for several years, gone unanswered and burned inside me.
The article also was my assurance that none of the bullying I’d suffered in school just a decade earlier was my fault, nor was there ever anything wrong with me. This was like a huge weight being lifted off my shoulders.
As a result, my interest in the phenomenon of bullying and social hierarchies took off from there, and I began reading every book and every magazine article I could get my hands on and every online article I came across about bullying. I was hungry and developed an insatiable appetite for the knowledge of it.
In my bullying research, I’ve discovered the term “mobbing” and researched that as well. I’ve found that mobbing is bullying- but it’s bullying to the highest extreme. A more popular definition of mobbing is “bullying on steroids.”
If there was a scale from 1 to 10 measuring the intensity, frequency, and severity; moderate bullying would be at levels 1-4, severe bullying would be at levels 5-8, and mobbing would be at levels 9-10.
So, what is mobbing exactly?
Mobbing is group violence. The entire school or workplace gangs up on a target by more than just physical violence- more by use of vicious rumors, gaslighting, and smear campaigns. Anytime a target is mobbed, they’re discredited, humiliated, isolated, and intimidated. Mobbing is designed to instill terror in the target.
It is also designed to make the target look like the guilty party- to make it look as if the target instigated the bullying or brought the bullying on him/herself. And the perpetrators or, more appropriately, “the mob” will vehemently claim that the target “deserved it.”
I’m thankful for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He carried me through what were the worst years of my life, and I didn’t just survive, I overcame. I believe He allowed me to endure the gut-wrenching terrors of school mobbing because He knew that later, I would develop a thirst for knowledge of it and use what I endured to help those who would endure, in the future, what I was enduring and reclaim their personal power and very lives.
I now realize that in allowing me to suffer at the brutal hands of my schoolmates, The Lord was preparing me for my calling, passion, purpose, and life’s work!
Therefore, if you’re currently being mobbed at school, I have a message for you:
Know that you are worth fighting for and you are worth living for. Know that you have value even if others can’t see it. In spite of what your bullies and mobbers tell you, you are just as worthy of love, respect, dignity, and friendship as the next person. You are enough and you matter.
Your peers may not appreciate you now, but I promise you that if you hold on, there will come a day when things are going to change for the better. You will see the sun again. You will find your tribe and you will have friends who love you for you and see the good you bring to this world.
How do I know? Because I’m living proof!