Did you ever have those people in your life that if you drove by them and they were bleeding you would smile, flip them off and keep driving? I do, in fact there are a number of people, my ex best friend, my ex husband and above all… About three or four girls who bullied me all the time from third to sixth grade. And then tried to from seventh to 12th, but I had gotten the reputation for being kind of a bitch so they backed off. And hopefully, picking on me had lost some appeal and they went, grew up and got lives of their own.
Now a days the schools are filled to the brim with anti bullying propaganda and I say “HERE! HERE!” Because I was bullied and no one really gave a shit. The attitude was more ignored and for me to just suck it up. Elementary school was hell for me. I was over weight, poor, from a divorced family, wore ugly clothes and had short bushy curly hair. Sure I was kind, funny, creative, sweet and nice, but those traits didn’t matter. Even girls I considered friends would betray me or ignore my pain if it meant that they got to hang with the “cool” crowd or not be picked on themselves. Even from the start I knew I didn’t want to be a “popular” girl. They were mean, right? Or at least most of the ones I knew were.
My sixth grade year I went home sick once a week because the tormenting was so bad I just wanted to be left alone. The friends I did have got bullied almost as badly as I did. I had bathrooms doors kicked in on me, names called, secrets sold to be spread around campus. I was tricked, pushed, whispered about and openly laughed at. I was that girl, the one who is thinking, “I wish you would all go and die now.” When I stood up for myself these same bitches and douche bags would be the first to run and tattle, landing me in trouble, simply for sticking up for myself.
I felt alone and sad… I hated school and everything to do with it. I was so excited to start middle school and leave behind all the people who had teased me. My middle school was pretty large and while sure, a lot of the same assholes went there, there were so many new people that I made friends quickly. I became loud, crass, funny and caring. Most of my new friends were in awe by my language and the fact that I seemed so grown up. But those same nasty harlots who had made me miserable would creep up every once in a while to say something horrible. I was always like, “do you SERIOUSLY not have anything better to do?” I learned to ignore them and surround myself with girls meaner than they could EVER possibly be.
High school was amazing. I made a TON of friends and was the center of my tiny social group. I was never popular but I think most people at least knew who I was. Aside from maybe one or two comments no one EVER picked on me again. I made friends with a couple of popular people (you know…the ones who will talk to you in private but not in front of their friends) and the rest left me alone. Thankfully several of the twat waffles that had been so cruel to me went to the other high school.
I did find parts of my personality changed because of my experience. I, in turn, am meaner, harsher, more closed off and more prone to tease others. I try to do it in jest; I never want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But the past effects us all and those who are bullied a lot of the time grow strong personal defenses which include becoming cruel in our own way. When gossip is fed so often through everyone’s words it is hard to get away from it and stop the cycles. Is gossip good or bad? I think it is like magic neither good or bad, it is the intent that colors whether your teasing or gossiping is right or wrong.
Now as a mother a girls I am super alert to bullying. My daughter has a bully in her class at school, already, and she is only in third grade. This girl has picked on and pushed my daughter, left bruises and threatened to “steal” her friends. When it started in first grade I took care of business. Like a proud and angry Mama bear I had a meeting with the principle and the teacher and made sure this girl was watched and that she sat no where near mine. Last year when she bruised my daughter I called and dealt with the school counselor and the principle, gave them a copy of the picture I took and told them they better take care of it or I would. This year my daughter has been pretty much left alone by this little she-bully. Hopefully this She-Bully has grown up a little or her parents have enforced a stricter social behavioral code. My child has been TAUGHT that being mean to others is wrong. I have explained that I have a zero tolerance for her teasing and being mean to other children.
I wonder about parents of children who become bullies. Are they themselves assholes? Or do they not pay attention and just not care? People need to pay attention. Bullying is a severe problem which leads to kids killing other kids or growing up and being the kind of adults you warn your children about. Or children grow up with other issues like low self esteem. Really alert your children to the types of bullying, physical, verbal, and cyber. Explain to them what to do if they are being teased and that teasing is wrong.
The statistics are horrifying.
One out of seven children are victims of bullying (is one yours?)
More than half of all children witness someone being bullied.
Almost twenty percent of kids skip school to prevent being bullied.
One out of ten students will simply drop out of school because of teasing.
Suicide is the third leading case of death in kids ages 12-18 and gets higher every year. Of these kids more than half were being bullied.
Bullying leads to anxiety, depression, low self esteem, low assertiveness and aggressiveness.
If this isn’t chilling enough:
Tyler Clementi killed himself in 2010 after teasing; Greg Cardarelli in 2004 and Rachel Ehmke in 2012. Phoebe Prince was 15 when she killed herself for the same reason, as did Amanda Cummings in 2012. These are just some of the ones who made the news. Don’t let your child be next.
Websites to Look at:
Information on Bullying and How to Stop it
Statistics of Bullying