We’ve got issues
Red Fm deejay Terry Ong talks about his tormentors back in school.
RED FM deejay Terry Ong’s Instagram username is @terryhasissues, and unfortunately, a lot of those issues stem from being bullied emotionally.
On the bright side, because of all he’s been through, Terry has grown into the person he is today, and instead of hiding it in the past, he is sharing his experiences with us in support of the R.AGE Against Bullying campaign.
What was your worst bullying experience?
I was in Form Three and we had to interview a local historical figure for a school project. One of the boys in my group somehow took offence to something I had said while we were planning the project. He was one of the “alpha males” of our school and nobody wanted to mess with him. To this day I don’t even know what I had said that offended him.
Soon after that, I started getting messages from one particular friend that also knew him. My friend kept saying things like “this guy says you’d better be careful”. I asked him why and all he said was, “you’d better watch your mouth” and “you’d better be careful. You don’t want to be caught alone with him”. The strange thing is the bully had never said anything to me about it!
Obviously I avoided this bully because I was a scrawny kid. It never got physical. I was never actually hit and I was never actually abused but the mental torture was horrible. It lasted for eight months. If I were waiting alone for my parents after school, he would sit a few metres away from me and not talk to me and just be there. If I had gone into the bathroom and he was there, I would leave because I never wanted to be caught alone with him. He knew what he was doing. He knew he was intimidating me and he’d do it on purpose.
Were you bullied in any other way?
Yes! I was bullied by a teacher when I was in Standard Four. I had moved to a new school and when I was filling in the forms, I had put “Eurasian” under “Race”. My father is Chinese and my mother is Eurasian and I was brought up thinking that I was Serani. In front of everyone, my class teacher had condescendingly asked me what my surname and father’s race were and insisted “that means you’re Chinese lah!” in a really harsh way. She was almost angry about it! Back then I hadn’t grasped the concept that what you are is what your father is. Technically, by blood I’m not only Chinese, and I think my race should not matter to begin with. This teacher made me feel stupid and embarrassed. And she didn’t let it go! For a while she harped on it and referred to me as “the boy who thinks he’s Eurasian”. I was a ten-year-old and she’s an authority figure – someone who I was supposed to be able to go to for help. It was awful.
What do you think about young people being bullied today?
I think I’m lucky not to be a teenager today. I think what teenagers go through now with social media is a whole new level of bullying. I have more than one teenage cousin and I worry for them. I think you need to be very mindful about what you say on social media. I understand that bullies are often misunderstood, but I think that if you bully someone online, it is extremely cowardly, especially if you do it anonymously. It shows what kind of person you are. But the flipside is many bullies were bullied before. Maybe what we need to do is find a way to make bullies realise what they’re doing is wrong. Maybe they already know it and just can’t help themselves. Bullies are actually people too.
If you’ve been a victim of bullying, or you want to support the campaign against bullying, go to RAGEAgainstBullying.com. R.AGE Against Bullying is supported by UNICEF, Befrienders, Childline Malaysia, Help International School, StarRFM and Churp Churp. YES is the telco sponsor.