To my daughter’s bully,
Imagine watching someone you love, perhaps your brother or sister, coming home crying and suffering because someone was really mean to them in school. Not only with really harsh words, but also doing mean things to them. Then imagine this happening every day. What would you say to her when she comes back crying and saying to you: Why me? Why am I bullied?
What kind of questions would come to your mind? Wouldn’t you ask yourself…
- What kind of person would bully someone else?
- Why would that bully do these nasty things?
- How would you feel towards the bully ― Anger? Hatred?
- Why shouldn’t you confront the bully and make him stop all the abuse?
This is how I’ve felt whenever you’ve bullied my now 16-year-old daughter these past eight years. You need to know that what you do not only impacts one person but also their entire family. More importantly, your bullying affects you more than any other person.
I explained that life is like a boomerang — if you are nice to others, others will be nice to you and if you are nasty to people, don’t expect others to be nice to you.
One thing I consistently ask my daughter whenever you bully her is “Who is the REAL loser? You or your bully?” The real loser is YOU, the bully. I tell her that the best ‘revenge’ is to live a good life. I explained that life is like a boomerang — if you are nice to others, others will be nice to you and if you are nasty to people, don’t expect others to be nice to you. I don’t mean to call you a loser, but I need to let my daughter know that it’s not her fault.
As difficult as it was, I brought up another topic — forgiveness. I asked my child if she can forgive you for all the things you’ve done to her. I vividly recall her reply to me: “Daddy, it’s very difficult. She did a lot of nasty things to me.” And who can blame her? If you are the one being bullied, would you be able to forgive the other person if she bullied you the same way you’ve bullied my daughter? I am sure you will find it next to impossible to find forgiveness as well.
Here’s why I have never made a request to the school to see you even though I have every right to: My wife and I firmly believe that this is something our daughter must handle on her own. We definitely have the option to step in but we made the conscious decision not to. If we wanted, we could get the support of the school behind us and confront you and your parents to make you stop. However, if we do this now, our daughter might become dependent on us in future to get her out of a difficult situation.
She must learn how to handle bullies now, so that in future when she enters adulthood, she will be able to manage other bullies on her own.
That is the biggest reason why we did not confront you — not because we didn’t care. On the contrary it’s because we care so much about her and want her to grow to become a strong and resilient woman. As much as we would like to protect her, we know that we will not be around forever. We think of it as real-world character building.
What I really want to know is: What is the real reason behind your bullying? I read online that it could be because you have been bullied previously? That your parents haven’t given you the attention you need? Or that bullying is a way for you to deal with the grief from a fallout with a family member or death of a loved one? What I found out online is most bullies don’t understand how wrong their behaviour is and how it makes their victims feel.
Punishing you may not stop your bullying and may even make it worse.
After finding out about you online, I realise the reason you bully is because you are dealing with some issues in your life. Punishing you may not stop your bullying and may even make it worse. What you really need is support or perhaps someone that you can talk to.
You may think that others don’t understand you — perhaps that’s true, but if you do not tell others about your problems, no one will understand you. So, I hope you can find the courage to talk to a teacher or someone that you trust. Talk to them openly about whatever challenges you are facing in your life. Or… you can even talk to me.
I promise I will not get angry. I promise.
Andrew Tan, 47, owner of a video-production company, is father to Alice, 12, and Alicia, 16.
In case you missed these open letters…