I was unaware that this is a National Day of Action Against Violence and Bullying,and I want you to be aware of that fact, and of just how bad the problem is, and has been, for years.
I for one am sick to death of seeing stories of kids who have been bullied at school, off campus, and sometimes even in their own homes when the harassment continues via cell phone and the internet, and I want to add my voice as a formerly bullied child to give another face to the problem and show that it's been going on for far to long.
Keep in mind, my bullying experiences started more than thirty five years ago. Back then the most we got out of the teachers, principals and parents of the offending children was 'kids will be kids'.
We have got to do so much better than that now.
There is no excuse for it. We know the problem is real and have seen the body count rise as teen after teen (and sometimes, even preteen kids and younger) break under the pressure. As parents we must be aware of how our kids are really doing and if they are the targets of bullies, as well as vigilant intervene against any tendencies in our own kids to bully if the problem is ever going to stop (in my experience, the worst bullies had parents who outright defended or worse encouraged their behavior.)
My own child could never bully anyone- but I have seen others kids and thought of the parents- why aren't you saying something to them?
My first bullying experiences began before I was in school. One particular child, and one particular memory stand out for me, back from when I was a preschooler.
I was playing in my own front yard, minding my own business, and I was nearly strangled by a neighbor boy, as he pinned me down in a culvert.
As I was beginning to pass out, I managed to pick up a rock and hit him on the head with it. Keep in mind this boy was several years older than I was and at least twice my weight. He dropped me into the culvert and ran away.
I went in the house and was too afraid to tell anyone what had happened- maybe too shaken, I don't know.
Then later that night, an angry knock hit our front door: it was the boy's mother, a child psychologist by profession, and she was there to tell my parents that I had assaulted her son. Apparently he had needed a couple stitches to close the gash from the rock- the blow that very likely saved my life.
My parents asked me then and there what really happened and I told them the truth- that I had hit him with the rock because he had "choked me". When the boy reacted by turning red- his mother then dragged him home by his ear- but never once do I remember him being disciplined or apologizing for what he'd done to me. He continued to terrorize me the rest of the time we lived on that street- and I heard years later that when he grew up, he spent some time in jail.
My problems with bullying in school began the first week of kindergarten- when a girl announced she was going to bring a gun to school and shoot me at recess the next day because she 'didn't like my blond hair'.
|My Kindergarten photo|
I went home this time and told my mother I didn't want to go to school the next day- and why- and when she called the principal he actually laughed- until he heard the girl's name. Turned out her older brothers were all in gangs and well known to the local police- likely she would have had access to a gun. In 1976. How much easier is it for kids to get a hold of firearms and act on those impulses today? I still am not sure what happened after that conversation but I believe that girl was transferred. I don't remember ever seeing her again.
I was religiously persecuted and bullied every day until my mother finally took me out of public school at the age of ten and homeschooled me.
I was spit on, I was physically assaulted, even by the 'safeties' (kids that were supposed to look out for the safety of other students like crossing guards) I had ketchup and mustard squirted all over me, I was called ugly, stupid, and fat by kids I wouldn't let copy my homework. I was bullied by boys and girls alike.
|Fourth grade. They called me fat and ugly and I believed it. In fact, on many levels I still do.|
Our house was vandalized on more than one occasion with religious slurs, and we lived in a 'good' middle class neighborhoods- it still happened in every one.
To put it bluntly, school was hell for me, and the experiences I had being bullied were not even the worst my family saw. One of my sisters was very nearly sexually assaulted by other students in high school.
My other sister got beaten up and her locker partner too, so badly the girl's nose was broken (both for religious reasons though they were different religions.)
I don't know how I could have taken it if I had continued on into middle and high school, the way that it was. When we told the teachers the response we got was "no one likes a tattletale". Well when someone is beating you up, I think that goes a wee bit beyond tattling to report it.
Enough is enough.
In fact it's too much.
We can't get back the young lives that have been lost already to bullying. Please, let us all as parents and professionals and kids alike try to get to the bottom of these issues and say we're just not going to tolerate bullying.
Not cause a kid is gay. Not cause a kid has special needs. Not cause a kid is this or that or the other thing.
No one deserves to be bullied- and these kids that won't stop doing it must- MUST be held accountable.
As should, in my view, their parents.