When I was in elementary school I was very outgoing. I was friends with practically everyone in my classroom and thus never experienced bullying myself. However, as my peers and I moved up a grade again and again, my best friends began to pick on kids who did not necessarily "fit in." In 5th grade, in particular, my two best friends were very cruel to two other boys, constantly calling them names and even physically hurting them. One day after school, when it was just my two guy friends and I sitting in the classroom waiting for our teacher so we could talk to her, another classmate of ours came in. This boy was one that my friends really liked to pick on. Now to save you the gruesome details, that afternoon, while there was no adult supervision after school in our classroom, my friends beat up the other boy. They hurt him pretty badly and when it was over the boy just got up and left. Where was I? Well all the meanwhile this was happening, I was sitting on a desk...laughing - even though I did not find this funny. A week or two later if I recall correctly, this boy moved schools and we never heard from him again.
Now I personally believe that what happened this day could have been prevented. I also believe that the person who did the most damage her was me. I was the bystander. I sat there and allowed my own friends to hurt this boy without doing anything about it even though I knew it was wrong. Nonetheless, I pretended like it was fine, like it was funny to me.
Years later, I searched for this boy on Facebook and all over social media. Unluckily for me, I could never find him. I did, however, find the other boy my friends picked on. I sent him a message, apologizing for never sticking up for him and allowing my friends to treat him so poorly. He never replied to me - and I don't blame him.
It's hard to understand or sometimes even empathize with people who are being bullied when you have never experienced this yourself. But we cannot fool ourselves either. By not acknowledging the problem, we ARE part of the problem and probably one of the most crucial parts. What I did as a kid, I am not proud of. I cannot go back and change time and fix my mistakes or the mistakes of my friends. However, I can speak up now. I am now in college and although I do not see bullying as often or frequently as I did when I was a child, I know it still exists. I could never understand why someone would want to hurt another person for absolutely no reason and I still can't. Finally, though, I am taking a stand and attempting to do my part to inform others and help others who have been part of this.
We are the problem, but we are also the solution.
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.