Haley Sadler: My advice for tackling bullies

Posted on May 1, 2012

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High school can be a nightmare. A lot of people get bullied for who they are and for being a little different.

I went through hell and back in school, putting up with people bullying me, teasing me, thinking it’s funny and clever to say “What! What!” to me all the time.

Because I have speech problems and can’t pronounce a few words properly sometimes, they’d take the mickey and say things like “Dats so dute” (that’s so cute).

In my view, bullies bully other people because they like to look good in front of their friends, and take troubles in their own life out on their victims. Or maybe, sometimes, it’s because they just get a kick out of it.

There were some nice people in my school who would come up to me, curious to know how a hearing aid works, and I would help them understand my hearing problems.

Many of them loved to learn sign language, I only knew a few signs at the time but I was more than happy to teach them what I knew because it made me feel good that they wanted to learn more about the deaf world.

What I don’t understand is why we have French or Spanish classes in school, when we’re not having sign language or deaf awareness classes.

I don’t think it’s right that people have to pay for sign language classes outside of school, and maybe this is why more deaf and hard of hearing people are getting bullied, because not many people know anything about the deaf world, or what we’re going through.

I genuinely believe that if we had sign language or deaf awareness classes in school, people would have a different outlook on life, and learn how to communicate with us.

Those who have a lack of knowledge about the deaf world sometimes approach us and then talk really slowly, stretching their mouth, making it more difficult to lipread, either that or they will shout – messing with their lip patterns which again, makes it more difficult to lipread. We’re deaf, not stupid so I just wish they could talk normally or a little bit slower.

At school, I was forever wishing I was like the popular girls in my year, trying my best to fit in when really, I was born to stand out. It took me 21 years to finally accept who I am.

Since I’ve created my deaf group on Facebook, I have had many deaf children and teenagers message me, asking me for help because they were getting bullied for being deaf.

It was upsetting to read how sad they are, wishing that the bullies would stop. I try and help them get through it and give them plenty of advice. Thankfully, they have listened to me and they’ve sometimes managed to stop the bullying.

My advice to those who are being bullied:

- Don’t stoop to their level and always seek for help from an adult. No matter how tempting it is to fight back, it’s not the answer. It will just make things worse and give the bully more excuses for bullying you.

- Try and not let the teasing get to you. I’m a very sensitive person and always let the teasing get to me in school. Bullies love seeing their victims getting upset and wounded up, so they’d carry on. If they are teasing you, ignore them and if they won’t leave you alone, go and seek help from an adult.

- You should never keep your feelings inside because it will get build up and up, and it’s not nice being on your ow,n bottling your feelings inside. Go and speak to your mum and dad about it, or your close friend or any adult in school. Even if people say “oh just ignore them, they will get bored soon enough” no matter what, ALWAYS keep telling them. If they still don’t listen, seek help from another adult.

- Practice what to say the next time you’re bullied with your parents, teachers or friends. You need to be COOL, act CALM and never let the bullies see you SAD or MAD. Ignore the bully and WALK away. Remember fighting back is never the answer. It will make the bullying worse.

If you need someone to speak to, you are more than welcome to send me a message on my Facebook or Twitter or my email if you haven’t got either of those two social network sites.

Remember, you are not alone. No matter how many times you will say it to yourself that you are alone, trust me. You. Are. Not. Alone. If you need someone to speak to, find someone you can trust.

This is my favourite quote, one that I think everybody should remember.

“Children with disabilities are like butterflies with a broken wing. They are just as beautiful as all others, but they need help to spread their wings”

Hayley describes herself as a “22 year old girl from Liverpool who likes listening to music and works her arse off to live life to its fullest.” You can join her Facebook group by clicking here and you can follow her on Twitter as @HaleySadler

The Limping Chicken is supported by Deaf media company Remark!, training and consultancy Deafworks, and provider of sign language services Deaf Umbrella.