I am behind on posting and had lots of ideas on what to post but after reading something in the news today, I would like to take a moment and address this issue.
While checking my email this morning, I came across this article about four teenage suicides in Ohio. These suicides occurred over the past couple of years, but each of these teens had one thing in common, they were all victims of being bullied.
Lately there has been a lot in the news about this topic. It all makes me sick to my stomach. So I decided that today I was going to address the issue in my blog because I have a story to tell.
I was a victim of bullies when I was growing up. I guess I was an easy target. When I was a kid, I was an easy target I guess. My mom was raising me on her own. My father was a big screw up, and some of the parents of the kids I went to school with knew just how big of a screw up he was. I was also slightly overweight. It was part of the reason that I switched schools in the third grade. My mother went to my school countless times before that, only to not have the situation remedied. Needless to say, when my mom remarried right after I started fifth grade, I was not a happy camper to return to that school. However, my new dad wanted my (step)brothers and me to all go to the same school.
There were a few times after that, between jr. high and high school, that it would have been easy to give up. However, I had some great teachers on my side. I still remember the time in jr. high when I went into my science class only to discover that one of my big family secrets had been just made public to everyone in the class. Some of the guys just kept taunting me and taunting me. I ran out of the classroom in tears. Mrs. Kessler, my teacher, had been outside the room and hadn’t seen what had been going on in that room. She saw me running out with tears running down my face. She asked me what happened, and I told her and said I was never coming back there. She told me to go to the bathroom and compose myself. She said she would take care of it. I have no idea what she said that day, but she did take care of it. There was never another word to me ever about the subject. Honestly, she is still one of my biggest heroes for what she did.
The funny thing though is that after that, I started seeing things a little bit differently. Yes, I was still a confused teenager who couldn’t figure out if she wanted to simply fit in or march to her own drum. However, as time went on, I realized that everyone had their own skeletons in their closets. That bit of knowledge helped me get through the tough times, especially in 11th grade when I ran into problems again.
I had two boys who kept harassing me at school and on the bus. (We lived in the country, so the bus was inevitable.) As it turns out, I was not the only person they were doing it to and finally I spoke up. It stopped. I was grateful, and life moved on.
The one thing that I hated the most though throughout the whole experience was that I graduated not really knowing who I was. I spent a lot of my high school years being something I wasn’t because I could never figure out whether I wanted to be myself or not. It kinda set the stage for the years that followed.
There are times now that I am still not the most confident, but I am working on it. I am lucky that as I got older, my teachers and the administration had my back. However, it would have been nice if I would have had that in my elementary years. Looking at the news today and reading through more articles like this of recent, I think we need to make some changes.
I do think the schools all need to have a zero tolerance on this kind of behavior. Some schools already do, and I commend them for it. Our awkward child and teen years set the stage for what kind of adults we are going to become. That said, I still believe that it all starts at home. What are we teaching our children? What examples are we setting? I we are showing the example that it is okay to make fun of somebody because they talk differently, have a funny spelled name, or have a disability, then what do we really expect? Do we expect that those children are going to go out and be kind to everyone, or are they going to perhaps start singling those kids out for ridicule. For those parents who are teaching kindness, we must not forget to teach our children that being a bystander to this activity is also not okay. We need to stop the cycle. What would you do if this happened to your child?
I know this is not my usual type of topic, but I just couldn’t keep my mouth shut. Thank you for reading and have a great weekend!