Recently there has been an all out effort to prevent bullying in our schools but I wonder where it will all lead.
In my school days the teachers had much more authority over students and yet bullying was just as prevalent. In those days teachers could actually touch students without being charged with some kind of crime. They could in fact use a strap across the hand or in dire instances a cane across the backside to keep order in the classroom.
I guess I just presumed that there would always be bullies in every school I attended and it was up to me to avoid them myself.
Although I was undoubtedly bullied on many occasions one stands out in my memory.
There were two older boys at my school who were well known and there was a story going around that they had taken a boy across the fields to a wooded area, stripped him of his clothes, tied him up and hung him by his feet from a tree branch, leaving him overnight until he was found in the morning. I have no idea if the story was true but knowing the two I certainly thought it plausible.
I must have been about eight years old at the time and often walked home alone from school.
For a few days I had noticed the two bullies tracking me through the streets and had taken evasive routes to steer clear of them but one day I realised that they had me almost boxed in.
My only choice to avoid them would have been to return to school and take a much longer route home so I continued on hoping they would leave me alone.
I approached on the opposite side of the street pretending not to notice them but when they started to cross I took off running as hard as I could and did manage to get past them but they were a few years older than me and, as a result, caught up with me after a couple of blocks.
They pulled me, kicking and fighting, into a back street and took off my jacket. With my bare arm exposed they said they were going to give me an Indian burn. That simply involved one of them gripping my wrist with two hands and twisting in opposite directions.
One of the things about me that didn't work in my favour that day is my natural ability not to show pain. Had I shouted out in pain I figure they may have let me go but I wasn't about to give them the satisfaction and simply looked at them as though they were doing nothing to me. That was when one of them took out a match, struck it, and held it to my wrist. On the fourth match I did wince at the burn and managed to pull away and run. They didn't follow and at the end of the block I stopped and watched until they had gone away so that I could retrieve my jacket and go home.
My mother noticed the burns so I told her what had happened and the next day she insisted on going with me to school where I had to repeat my story to the headmaster.
I don't know what punishment they received but they never bothered me again.

The incident didn't scar me for life, either physically or emotionally, and probably made me a little more wary of getting into dangerous situations.

I do realise that, these days, with little discipline allowed in the schools and the addition of drugs, weapons and the internet in the mix things are much more serious than when I was a boy.

Although I would love to think that bullying could be stopped in schools I doubt it will ever happen but I do think that children should be encouraged to report it.
Had my mother not noticed my burns I probably would have continued to be bullied by the same two whenever I walked home alone and, who knows, maybe it kept one or both of them from a life of crime although my cynical side doubts it made any difference.