Bullying. We've all experienced it either directly or indirectly. I'd bet that bullying has been around since the beginning of mankind. But for some reason, or a combination of reasons, it has gotten to the point where young people are committing suicide in droves as a result.
I can say that I have been on both the receiving end and delivering end of bullying. Before becoming the swan that I was in high school, I was the ugly duckling, picked on for being a loner, having the '80s hairstyles my mom still thought was cool, living in a dairy barn that had been renovated into a house and so much more.
Kids are mean, but I was meaner. I got into a lot of fights, mostly with boys, to carve out a reputation not to be messed with. Once, in 5th grade, I grabbed a boy by the front of his shirt and threw him on the ground for calling me a bad name, ripping all his buttons off. My mom made me go to his house to sew them back on and apologize. His mom made him spend an afternoon teaching me how to play a video game or something like that. I have since been an excellent sewer, and we were friends by the next year.
Later, when I finally came out of my shell and was one of the popular girls in our grade, hanging out with the older boys and the center of much attention, I turned against my fellow bullying victims. Instead of using my fists, I used my words and attitude to make myself seem worthy of the popularity I'd acquired.
Luckily for them, and perhaps myself, I moved away during my 9th grade year, becoming a reformed bully in the process. But I can never go back to make amends.
Now, my 10-year-old little brother is the target of some bullying, which will only get worse with age. He has long hair, for which he is called a girl, and glasses, which always gets you some flack. He is also the sweetest kid you'll ever meet, leaving him open for all kinds of meanness.
The best I can do is teach him about my own experiences from both perspectives and hope that we can create in him the coping skills necessary to endure the hateful brats who chose him as their victim. All the while, I'll be restraining my impulse to go punch little kids in their faces for their insensitivity. Luckily I live a couple of states and 10 hours away.
Educate your kids every day, every month, every year on bullying. Especially this month, which marks National Bullying Prevention Month.
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