I will never let them win.

Like most kids, I started getting bullied around 5th grade. I had issues with my weight. I grew taller and faster then all the other kids. I had horrible acne. I was constantly criticized and make fun of. So many times I tried to stand up for myself, only to fail and get bullied even more. I remember one specific occasion that happened in one of my 6th grade classes. There was a girl in that class who targeted me for no reason. I had never spoken to her before, and I suddenly was a target for her. She actually went after me in front of the whole class, including the teacher, and no one did anything. I was left to defend myself, and somehow I, TOO, got into trouble! What kind of public school system do we have that bullying happens right in front of a teacher's face and, yet, they still do nothing?!

High school was better, but I still always felt like an outcast. I dressed differently, I still had problems with my weight and acne. I was never the girl that guys went after, never the first person picked in a gym class that was already a joke to begin with. I saw other kids get picked on, too, and I saw school faculty look the other way like nothing was happening. I have been to 12 schools over my lifetime (I grew up Army), and they were all the same.

We moved to a small town called Yelm in Washington State when my dad got transferred to Ft. Lewis back in 2007. He shipped off to Iraq a week after we moved into our house. I had never felt more alone and like an outcast then ever. I withdrew from everything and everyone. I skipped class, I skipped school. I made up every excuse that I could think of to not have to go to that miserable place. I remember one teacher who just called me "lazy" in front of the whole class. Never once asked me what was going on, if I was going through something that was causing my behavior.

It is AMAZING how out of touch with reality the public school system is.

I don't remember the point where I started standing up for myself. I think it was towards the end of my junior year of high school. I stood up to my teachers, and I knew if I could stand up to them, then I could stand up to everyone else, too. I knew that I couldn't let them win. If I gave up on myself, on what I wanted out of life, then that was letting them win. The greatest victory is not letting them win. Thankfully, I have very supportive parents who helped me get there.

I am now a happily married woman, I have a good paying job, and I own my own business. I won't lie and say that I never think about the things that happened to me. There's a lot more detail that I could go into about what I went through, but it would take me all day to talk about it.

What I can tell you is that I will try as hard as I can to prevent other kids from going through what I did. I will try as hard as I can to make the public school system own up to their failures in keeping kids safe. Better measures need to be taken to ensure the success and happiness of our children. While we all have to go through hardships to learn in life, it should not be at the expense of the safety of our kids.

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