With so much coverage, news, blogs and articles about bullying it has come up in several of my conversations lately.
Before I even start this I want to recognize that with technology these days there are far more ways to bully, much more public bullying and probably much wider spread bullying.
My first response is….haven’t we all been bullied. Even the bullies have probably been abused at home. When I was in second grade was the first time I remembered being “bullied’ or “picked on” by classmates. What can I say kids are cruel. I remember dreading class and feeling alone. I also remember when a chubby, freckled, red-headed girl started mid year and my bullying subsided as the kids took on a new target (and I was releived.)
I don’t remember if I told my mom about it or not. Probably not. I do remember during other challenges in life and her sage advise was “it builds character.” I also think if I had told her about Emily and Scott and Mark picking on me at 8 years old, she would have intervened. I couldn’t tell you what it was about now but I can still see their faces.
Now the bullying I had in 8th grade was much different. Jackie….she managed to torment me an entire year. Changing my route home from James Monroe Jr. High on a daily basis. Sometimes going in a complete opposite direction before doubling back. Sometimes lingering after school long enough that she would go ahead and leave. She did manage to beat me up three times that year. Those were actually the easier days, because although I couldn’t fight well, neither could she. A few punches, slapping or hair pulling was all it amounted to. But it was the daily fear and threatening that made life hell.
I know for a fact I didn’t tell my mom about that. She had enough going on at the time. Della’s school had been burned down and her world was chaotic. My Grandmother (moms mom) got pneumonia and moved into our two bedroom apartment with us. The last thing she needed was me crying about some punk wanting to beat me up because I wouldn’t change her attendance record. Or at least that’s what it was about on day one, the rest of the time it was just because she was getting something out of it.
I don’t know if I have a point, at this point. I do know that overbearing people still take away my voice. But what do we as a society do about a problem that was here long before My-space and Facebook. Long before someone could twitter random slander in 140 characters to the entire school. What was a minor league audience to my bullying, Jackies closest pals, is now being played out on a world-wide stage.
The audience alone is the difference. If four people knew of my bullying and didn’t do anything about it, meh. If the entire 300+ kids at school and teachers and parents and neighbors had known and still did nothing about it then the feeling of helplessness and worthlessness would be magnified.
The audience is the difference. The audience to today’s bullying has got to stand up and say enough!