We’ve got is­sues

Red Fm dee­jay Terry Ong talks about his tor­men­tors back in school.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - R.AGE - By JAYDEE LOK

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.

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