Friday, February 3, 2012

Bullies

I didn't really think about it until recently, but I was bullied quite a bit as a child. I had frizzy hair. I had freckles. I didn't understand sarcasm. I rocked my head all day long. And I was teased for those things....a lot. Only back then, no one talked about bullying. I started using my imagination to escape reality or pretend people liked me. I don't make excuses for my mistakes, but I do remember the desperate feeling of just wishing someone, ANYONE, would like me for who I was, and being willing to change myself to try and gain "friendships." I didn't value myself as I should have or have the confidence to be strong in who I was - I was easily molded by my peers, simply because I was relieved to have friends and would do anything to keep them. I can't say if I would have made any choices differently, and I wasn't really a "bad" kid, but I can see now that the reason for some of my thoughts or actions didn't start in high school or even middle school....it started in kindergarten when a boy mocked me on the swing set. I remember it still, so it obviously bothered me back then.

We have recently made it our national crusade to end bullying. We tell kids to come forward, to speak up, to tell someone about their troubles. But I am so bothered by the simplicity of this message, as if it is just as simple as these kids telling an adult or peer about what is happening. That if we just get the message out there that bullying is not tolerated, it will somehow translate to support that actually makes a difference to that one kid.

But who is going to step in to actually MAKE these bullies stop? Who is going to be there when these kids are further bullied for "tattling"? 

Who is going to realize the awful choice these kids have to make: risk making things exponentially worse and being branded a tattle-tale by telling someone, or wonder if anyone will even believe them, or realize that people just might not care enough to step in because, well, it must not be TOO bad since they aren't dead yet.

It is a thin line kids teeter on between choosing to become the "dork" or liar who tattled, or choosing to end their life.

See, even though we wear bracelets, post images on Facebook, and cry OUTRAGE at the latest teen suicide over bullying, no one is providing these victims any sense of confidence that the bully will actually be punished and stopped. So, they just endure, until they can't anymore.

It's a nice idea, to start organizations, create awareness, post things, and put out all the lip service you want about the issue. But at the end of the day, who is actually going to make things better? 

I'm sure this is what most bullied kids across America are wondering, and why the suicides keep happening.

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