When I was a kid I was bullied by an older girl on my school bus. Every day she would find a way to torture me. A foot out to trip me. A yank at my hair, a whispered threat to beat me up. I began to complain of fake ailments to avoid going to school. I dreaded the thought of stepping onto the school bus not knowing what awaited me.
The mental was worse than the physical pain. I was scared of this person. She was big and aggressive. I was skinny and wore glasses. I had never been a fight before. I cringed when I thought of how she would pummel me with her huge fists.
Why was I her target? Was it my size? The fact that I wore glasses? What made her single me out?
These are questions often pondered by people who are bullied.
I had never spoken to this girl. Never challenged her in any way yet it was like someone painted a red bull’s eye on my back and she was the bull.
As an adult I think about the kids that are driven to suicide by bullies. I never contemplated suicide but I did wish she would disappear and never return.
What makes a bully?
Is it just in a person’s nature to be cruel? Does it start in a home riddled with dysfunction? Is it the bully’s own lack of self-esteem that makes them feel empowered by hurting others?
The end of my story was that I finally fought back. She and I ended up fist fighting on the school bus one afternoon and guess what? I won the fight. Observers stated that my arms looked like skinny windmills as I beat the girl into submission.
I did not fight that day because I was filled with hate. I fought because I was tired and I wanted it to stop.
She could have stopped it. She could have left me alone. She could have friended me.
She did not do any of those things but she did leave me alone after the fight.
I do recommend fighting back but not with your fists.
If you see someone who is being bullied come to their aid. There is strength in numbers.
Talk to a trusted adult. I never confided my troubles to anyone. I wish I had.
Be confident. Keep your head high. Bullies often look for a chink in your emotional armor.
If someone threatens you in person or online tell an adult. It could be a crime.
Talk to your children about respecting others and their belongings.
Encourage your children to talk about their day at school and on the bus.
Observe your child for a sudden change in appetite, mood and behavior. Notice any bruises. Ask how they happened.
Advocate for your child. Follow the chain of command. Teacher, Principal, Superintendent until you stop the abuse.
Start teaching your child that we are all different and that is a wonderful thing. What a boring world it would be if we were all alike.
Empower your child before they ever go to school. Teach them to be kind, to be friendly, to be compassionate, to be honest, to be forgiving, to be helpful. You will not regret these teachings when you see them played out before your eyes on day.
Monitor your children’s computer time.
Build your child’s self-esteem. The better they feel about others the less likely they will bully.
I think about Dac when I think of bullying. She was unable to attend school because of heart failure and a lowered immune system but if she had what would she have been exposed to?
Would a bully have targeted her because of her mental disability? Because of her Autism, Because of her facial tumors? Because of seizures? Would she have come home every day crying? Would she have understood the cruelty?
Let’s stop bullying.
Let’s embrace our differences.
Let’s spread love instead of hate.
Let’s protect our kids.