IT first happened when I was seven. A boy in my class tried to give me a giant Valentine’s card, and a bear holding a heart-shaped “I love you” sign. I said I didn’t want them and he burst into tears. Big, blubbery, seven-year-old tears, in the middle of the playground. Everyone in the vicinity stared.

I don’t remember how I ended up in possession of the card and the bear. I suspect a teacher told me I had to accept them. We were friends, me and the boy. We played together. But I had said no. The lesson was learned at an early age: his feelings matter more than yours. Look, you’ve upset him. Why can’t you just be nice?

When I was 12, another boy decided he was “in love” with me. This time we were not friends, in fact we’d barely ever spoken to each other. We were once home economics desk partners, for a lesson involving cake decoration, and while I don’t recall the theme of my own creation, his sticks in the mind. He made a graveyard cake, complete with fondant tombstones.

Despite the fact that we’d never had a proper conversation, he announced to some of our classmates that if I wouldn’t go out with him, he would kill himself. They gleefully relayed this news to me, knowing I would be mortified. Once again, the message was clear: this boy’s feelings were my responsibility. And this time it wasn’t even my behaviour that was the problem, it was my existence.

Then, at 14, came a campaign of harassment gleefully orchestrated by a group of boys in another class who quickly discovered that nothing worsens a beamer than a cry of “she’s got a beamer!” in a crowded corridor. They’d chant the name of another boy at me when I walked across the school campus between classes, sometimes shoving him into me then hooting with laughter. I fielded anonymous phone calls telling me that he “deserved to be given a chance”, and endured relentless pressuring and pestering (the low point of which was being informed that I reminded him of his dead mother).

In response, I never raised my voice, or caused a scene. After all, doing so was only likely to encourage them, and escalate the beamer to beetroot. This boy was an oddball, a misfit. He didn’t have the right trainers, or a cool haircut, or a mother. Thanks to my female socialisation (“don’t be a bitch”, “it’s a shame for him”, “you should be flattered”) it didn’t even occur to me to say firmly and publicly that no meant no.

Shana Fisher said no, and now she’s dead. According to her parents, the 16-year-old from Santa Fe had endured months of harassment by the time she finally told the boy responsible to “cut it out”. She even spoke to her mother about her fear of him killing her. And then it happened.

Reading about the build-up to last Friday’s shooting, which also left another seven pupils and two teachers dead, is chilling. But what’s even more disturbing are the subtle ways in which discussions of the atrocity make room for the possibility that Shana might have been – at least partly – to blame for her own murder at that hands of a boy she wanted absolutely nothing to do with.

The headlines declaring that the killer was “humiliated” when she turned him down in front of their peers. The early reports erroneously referring to her as his ex-girlfriend, when she was nothing of the sort (later reports describe him as the ex-boyfriend of her best friend). “Look what she made him do” is the subtext. She provoked him into killing her, and others too. She humiliated him – what did she expect?

Where, in all of this, is Shana Fisher’s humanity? Where is her identity as a vibrant young woman who loved animals, flowers and art? Why are there more headlines referencing her “spurning”, “rejecting” and “humiliating” him than ones mentioning him harassing, embarrassing and frightening her?

Even those trying to correct this imbalance fall into a trap of implicitly suggesting that if the circumstances had been a little different, Shana’s behaviour would have been unacceptably harsh or unfair. He’d become aggressive, some point out. He was her friend’s ex-boyfriend, stress others.

In other words, in these particular circumstances she was entirely justified in turning him down. The implication being that if he had kept his pestering below a certain threshold, and hadn’t previously dated one of her friends, it would have been unreasonable for her to say no.

This needs to stop, immediately. No-one should be required to give a reason when rejecting the offer of a date. No-one is entitled to the time or attention of another person, regardless of any gifts given or grand gestures made. That’s simply not how relationships work, despite what decades of Hollywood “romantic comedies” might have us believe.

If a seven-year-old girl is having her pigtails pulled, don’t say “maybe that means he likes you”. If a 12-year-old is being bombarded with unwanted texts or snaps, don’t say “maybe you should give him a chance”.

Don’t tease teenagers about their friendships with classmates of the opposite sex, even if to you it’s all just a bit of fun. And don’t fall into the trap of assuming your own kids could never become bullies.

Remember Shana Fisher. Forget his name.