Being Aware of Bullying

1 Mar

Disclaimer– the following account is VERY hard for me to share.  It’s an admission of the very worst period of my life, the very lowest point of my Faith, when I felt most assured I was all alone and no one cared.  I hope and pray that my own admission helps someone face the truth of bullying and how harmful it really is.

As a 3rd grader moving to a new school in the middle of the year, I had no idea what to expect.  I quickly learned that acceptance by classmates was hard to come by, and in my case, if that acceptance didn’t come, bullying soon took its place.

My memories of elementary school from the latter part of the 3rd grade to the end of the 6th grade, are sad, ugly, and full of regret.  I was the victim of bullying from a group of girls who at first had been friends.  I do not know why I was targeted, but I was not alone at the receiving end of the ugliness.  The fourth and fifth grades were the worst.  There was name calling, there was shoving, there was just a lot of ugliness.  Maybe it was because I did so well in school.  Maybe it was because I was “poor” and lived in a trailer (“trailer trash” being a common name they threw at me.)  Maybe because they could see the effects their ugliness had on me- I often had to leave the room or recess or PE to cry in the girls room.

I felt a lot of fear.  I felt a lot of anger.  I felt tons of frustration, helplessness, weakness, and confusion.  As a fifth grader, I started contemplating suicide.  Fifth grade!  I felt like no one cared.  Certainly, none of those girls cared.  My parents refused to get involved despite the fact I came home crying nearly every day.  I had a single teacher show me any kind of courtesy after she witnessed the one and only physical fight I got into with one of the girls, and she called my parents to come pick me up as I was too shaken to stay in school the rest of the day.  Other than that, the principle never addressed it, the teachers left it alone, and my friends ducked their heads and didn’t speak of it, didn’t help, just didn’t do anything (maybe to keep off the group’s radar.)

As a result of those YEARS of bullying, I entered Junior High with ZERO self-esteem.  I always walked against the wall.  If I was standing in a group of other “rejects,” I chose to stand in such a way as to not have to make eye contact with anyone, and if I could with my back against the wall.  I loved school as far as learning went, and hated it because I disliked the way I felt about myself when I was around girls my own age.  I had few real friendships, none of which have lasted, even though I do stay in contact with some of the girls from Junior High who I respected, because they had not known me in elementary school, and so they were always kind, but distant.

By the time I entered Junior High, as other life changing events took place in my personal life, suicide became a daily thought.  I had several different plans, and ideal times to rid myself of the sad life I was living.  I then would get angry with myself for being too chicken to go through with it.  I would cry myself to sleep, hating myself, hating the past, and having no hope for the future.

To be honest, there were four things that kept me alive.

Psalms 46:1 “The Lord is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

I found the verse one night while I was desperately seeking His guidance during a time when He felt so distant and uncaring.  I clung to that verse like I was drowning… 

That verse opened my eyes to a second thought and a reason for living.  My sister.  I had to stay for my sister.  (The reasons are too complex to explain, but she would understand.)  Psalm 46:1 became my mantra. 

I still struggled with suicidal thoughts.  Those thoughts still drove me to tears and nightmares and depression.  But I would repeat it over and over and over like a never ending praying.  I had to live.

About that time, I met a dear friend from my Church Youth Group.  She was a little bit younger than me, but in my mind she was beautiful, smart, and we shared a lot of the same interests.  I grabbed onto that friendship with both hands and clung for dear life. 

Not long after becoming friends with her, I moved from public school to attend High School at a local Christian school.  There I made my second life-saving friendship with a gorgeous girl in my class whose personality was so bubbly and joyous I couldn’t help but be drawn in by her.  Her friendship became another literal life line.

I still struggled to develop a self-esteem.  Kids at the new school could be harsh, but I was no longer the butt of the joke.  The kids who became friends with me also challenged me to believe in myself and to become a better person. 

From there, I also grew in my Faith.  I found true Hope and Peace, though it wasn’t until many years later that I gained enough confidence in myself to be alone, and find that I was okay alone.  It wasn’t until I became an adult that I discovered that I am a beautifully unique person and have value. 

The reason I share this very horrible scar with you is due to a video that was recently shared of bullying occurring in one of our local schools.  People are acting so shocked!  Like things like this didn’t happen when they were kids.  Like things like this are not happening in EVERY school in EVERY corner of the world.  Bullying is a fact of life!

Do not pretend it doesn’t happen.  Do not pretend your child could not be the bully or the victim.  Do not pretend that children who are the victims of bullying need to “suck it up.”  Talk to your children.  Be aware of the class dynamics.  Make sure your child knows you care about the part they play when they witness bullying.  Make sure your child knows you care about them.  Make sure they know that they are not alone. 

One thing I know for a fact, most bullying behavior starts at home.  If you, as a parent, think you are better than someone else, your child will pick up on it, and WILL express that to their classmates.  If you, as a parent, speak ugly to your child or spouse or of someone else, your child WILL express that among his/her peers.  Our children are mirrors of what they see and hear at home.

So what will YOU do about bullying? 
How will YOU help prevent your child from becoming a bully? 
How will YOU help prevent your child from becoming a victim? 

This is NOT the school’s responsibility… This lies flat at your feet Mom and Dad!  So what will you do?

I have included the video from the local school happening, as well as one of a young victim who has succeeded in handling bullying without lashing out.

Be aware- these are very hard to watch!  Especially the first one.


3 Responses to “Being Aware of Bullying”

  1. Christina Borden 15 August 2013 at 1:06 PM #

    Thank YOU for sharing YOUR story. I think many adults try to forget those painful parts of our past. Some of them do quite a good job at it, but then also ignore the signs that hit so close to home because of the pain it brings up. Those of us who have been bullied should not bury it anymore. We need to help spread awareness. We also need to teach our own children how to handle it (hopefully, better than we did.) I still do not know how a bullied child could avoid being bullied, but I sure hope that we adults will not let that child feel alone, like they have to carry that burden themselves.

  2. The Shitastrophy 15 August 2013 at 9:46 AM #

    Wow. I can't read this without tearing up. It amazes me that so many people are shocked that this DID happen and the effects are lasting. I had a woman contact me this morning that shared her story of bullying, it angered me so much for her. You could feel her hurt 25 years later. Just like I am still reliving mine. Thank you for reaching out and sending me your link. Together we all need to stop this atrocity.

  3. Anonymous 3 August 2013 at 9:32 AM #

    OMG!!! What a raw post. This is forcing me to rethink my own position on bullying. Thank you for sharing.

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