“Not All Forms of Abuse Leave Scars” – Singer Songwriter Matthew Quek Opens up on Being Bullied as a Child
For most of his growing up years, Matthew was bullied in school.
An insecure and introverted child, Matthew often found himself the subject of ridicule and the perpetual target of the ‘more popular’ kids in school. The inability to adhere to societal norms and having invisible learning difficulties only added fuel to the flame; so much so that going to school daily became a recurring nightmare for young Matthew.
“My classmates, and even one teacher, called me ‘slow, stupid and dumb’.” recalled Matthew. “They labelled me, called me derogatory names, and while the abuse was not always physical, the intention to cause fear and distress harmed my mental well-being to such an extent that I began to believe their taunts.”
The singer now wants to raise awareness about bullying by sharing his past experiences with not only the youths of today, but also their parents, guardians, and educators. Bullying is not simply ‘a normal part of growing up’ and definitely not contest of the survival of the fittest. In today’s society, where electronic communications and social media are de rigueur, it becomes even more dangerous as cyber-bullies run amok, hiding behind that screen of anonymity - without faces, or names.
While bullying has been identified as a problem, it continues to be prevalent in schools. According to a Singapore documentary in 2018, three quarters of the respondents, (who were mainly youngsters) said they had been bullied online, and almost all of the victims did not inform their parents. In a joint 2014 survey conducted by the Singapore Children’s Society and the Institute of Mental Health for 3,000 students aged 12 to 17, it was reported that one in nine adolescents has been a victim of cyberbullying.
The Cause and Effects of Bullying
While there is no single reason that can explain bullying, aggressors will usually pick on others perceived to be weaker than themselves. Insecurity, the need to be in control, poor upbringing and the exposure to violent games or movies may also be contributing factors. Others use social media platforms to broadcast sensitive information or hurt the victims’ feelings.
Young people who have been bullied may feel alone, unsafe, afraid, stressed, humiliated, ashamed and rejected. Often, they will feel that there is no escape and may take measures to ‘fit in’ by changing their appearance or acting differently and hurting themselves or others.
Sharing His Experience
Matthew was born after his mother battled a severe and life-threatening complication during childbirth. He grew up in a loving home, and even though he was perceived as a ‘slow-learner’ in his early years, his learning disabilities were only formally diagnosed towards the tail-end of his National Service.
His experience in school has left an indelible mark on Matthew. “My learning difficulties caused me so much trauma, emotionally and psychologically. I was often ostracised by my classmates because I was struggling with not only schoolwork, but also playground communications,” said Matthew. This, however, did not deter him from progressing academically. With strong family support and older friends who constantly gave him advice and the strength to soldier on, he went on to read History in a local university, where he was listed in the Faculty’s Dean’s list for three consecutive years and graduated with a Second Upper Honours - a feat that doctors thought virtually impossible, given the severity of his learning disabilities.
The Importance of Support Units
“I want to emphasise that one should never, ever feel embarrassed about informing parents, guardians or friends whenever they feel threatened, excluded or discriminated upon. They should seek help and advice from trusted sources; and they should know that fighting back against individuals who have caused mental anguish is not a sign of weakness. On the contrary, it is a courageous decision to stand up for themselves.” Matthew said.
He also highlights the importance of recognising cyberbullying by reporting offensive material, such as comments which are meant to hurt and vilify. “If the material is on an online public platform, there are also options for you to report these posts. Do not take cheap online insults to heart, and never put yourself in a position where it becomes easy for people to take advantage of you. There are several organisations that can assist if you need help with problems related to cyber-bullying,” he continued.
Matthew now actively channels his spirited and effervescent personality into meaningful endeavours, such as singing, song-writing and mentoring youths. He has managed to overcome all adversities and emerged not only stronger, but also armed with the understanding that obstacles in life come in many forms. For those who may not conform to societal norms, life can be a challenging journey. With relentless support from family and friends, Matthew has managed to navigate through the turbulent currents of self-destruction and bitterness - but recognises that he is one of the fortunate few. “There are many people out there who are struggling with bullies and have no one to turn to. I hope that by sharing my experiences, they will know that they are definitely not alone, and that there are those who will stand with them in their fight against bullies.”
For more information: www.matthewquekonline.com
Matthew’s music: www.youtube.com/user/mquek7
Issued on behalf of Matthew Quek by Affluence Public Relations.
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