I was bullied in elementary and middle school, mostly by girls (boys have a tendency to respect anyone who can run fast or jump higher, so they were relatively cool with me, which made the girls dislike me more). Luckily, after having extremely few schoolfriends before, in 7th grade, I found a few other unpopular people who happened to also be so smart and caring and kind, and we became friends. This gave me confidence to realize that that the problem was not with me but with the people bullying me. My friends saw who I was and what I could do and they valued it and me as I likewise valued them.
By my junior year of high school, this group had grown and changed. We were the kids in the honors classes, the student government, choir, theater, band. We weren't popular with the jocks or that group of people but we didn't need to be. We were accomplishing things while those other people were starting to fade into the background.
Then, as an adult, I became a teacher. And I learned that every time a teacher had turned a blind eye to what bullies had done to me and my friends, that was a CONSCIOUS decision. Because any teacher worth their salt knows EXACTLY what's going on in their classroom. And they can change things, if only in their class. They can punish those who hurt, even if it's only by calling them out. They can protect the child, if only by documenting the torments and informing the parents. And they can provide that child a place where they are valued, cared for and unhurt, even if it's only for a 50-minute class.
Trust me, that 50 minutes can mean everything to a child going through this. It can be an island of calm, a place to build yourself back up, a place to recharge and discover your worth. It can keep that child from doing something terrible to herself or someone else.
And you don't have to be a teacher to make the change. Just one friend. Just one person telling the bullied child they they see what's happening, that it's wrong, and that they know it is totally undeserved...it's a lifeline, literally. It can keep that other child from dying at their own hands or in their hearts.
There is no excuse. You can choose to be that teacher or that friend. Or you can choose not to. But do not be mistaken: choosing not to IS still a choice. It's a choice to be unjust, unkind, and to allow the bullying and its damage to continue. It's refusing to throw the life preserver out to someone who's drowning. It's the choice to side with violence and hate. There are no innocent bystanders when it comes to this sort of thing.
It's a time to recognize what type of person YOU are.
So what do you choose?
By writing some words below, you are showing your support and letting everyone know they're not alone.