Bullying From All Angles

He snapped my bra strap.


I was a "young bloomer."  Marvin had been picking on me since he started school at the beginning of the 5th grade.  By the end of that year, I had started to develop, and my Mom decided it was best for me to get a training bra.  It was too late.  Kids were already picking on me for my budding chest, calling me "Kleenex" and accusing me of stuffing my bra.  The torment was neverending.  Boys drew stick figures with huge boobs on my books and in my locker, "accidentally" hit me in the chest with things, dripped paint on my chest in art class, and tried to drop things into my shirt.  

One day, Marvin snapped my bra strap from behind.  I had had enough.  I grabbed a handfull of peas from my lunch tray and smeared them into his face, up his nose, and in his ears.

I was made to clean the lunch room while everybody laughed and pointed at me.  The next day, a kid had taped a picture of a busty, topless woman from an adult magazine inside my binder.  I told a teacher, but she quickly threw the picture away, and since she couldn't prove that any particular student did it, nothing was done about it.

As a parent, I am watching my daughter experiencing bullying at her school.  Now she is in the 5th grade, and it's the same sort of thing -- kids pick on her until she cries, I go to school to talk to teachers and principal, nobody can prove anything, so nothing gets done about it.

As a teacher, I see it from both sides.  I see kids being bullied, I go to the office and report it to the administration, and usually, nothing gets done about it.  I can punish kids in class somewhat, but my options are limited and often don't have long-lasting results.  I can talk to students about the problem and even work with classes to do meaningful discussions and reflections about it, but without a more across-the-board approach to the problem of bullying, anything I do in class will be forgotten in a few days when kids get bombarded with urgent messages about standardized testing, sports, prom, and exams.

My school just hosted a screening of "Bully," and I was moved to tears.  So were some students, so I know the message is getting through.  I hope this means the school will take a firm stance against bullying.  We can't let this be one more message that gets lost a few days after we present it.

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