I remember the day I went to preschool. It was magical to me. I met knew kids and became friends. It was the best thing ever for me. As I got older and exceled in school I yearned for knowledge. I was that one kid in school that absolutely loved school. I wanted to learn as much as I could. If I could see in the future, I would see that the one place I loved to be in would be my most hated.
When I entered Intermediate school, things became different. It was during third grade that I found out I was different from my friends. It was that year that I learned I had Dyslexia. I was too young at the time to understand what Dyslexia was. All I knew was that I had trouble reading. I used to hate reading with a passion.
During Fourth and Fifth grade things started to get better. My Dyslexia was being tamed and my grades started to climb back up.
Sixth grade was when my world turned dark and cold. It was when my bullying started. Three girls bullied me verbally at first. At first I tried ignoring them but words stick to you.
Ignoring only provoked them further. I went to my teachers…. no help. I finally went to my school councilor and bless her heart, she tried everything in her power to help me.
In the end, the bullying became worse. I only found solace in the books I read. The thing I used to hate became my solace.
I tried telling my parents about what was happening at school, the only thing they could tell me was to ignore the girls who bullied me. I never fault my parents, this was during a time where bullying in schools was starting to become known a little.
For the next four years, school was hell for me. I tried to avoid the thing I hated and my Dyslexia started to rear its head again. By eighth grade I started to hate myself. All I wanted was to be normal. That's all I asked God every time I went to church. “Please God make me normal.”
It was ninth grade when my bullying started to become physical. It was also the time my savior saved me. While my counselor in High School made things worse, it was my principal that saved me and a teacher I will never forget.
Now don't get me wrong. In Middle School I did eventually go to the principal. He blamed me for my misfortunes. So when I went to my High School principal I was scared he would blame me as well.
A teacher that was there to listen to my problems convinced me to go to my principal. I was terrified. Every time I went to counselor or higher, I faced retaliation from these girls.
When I spoke to the principle, he took notes and asked me how long this has happened and I answered every question while I told him my tale. I felt I was giving him a sob story since I started crying in his office.
Then he said the one phrase I never thought I would hear. “I will take care this now.”
My bullying came to an end that day and my days started to become brighter. I thought my life would get so much better, but there was one thing that my bullies were able to do that was lasting. They left scars on me. Not visible ones, they were mental scars.
I never tell my family about my scars or even my friends. I try not to talk about the effects the bullying caused me.
My everyday life, I live with my Dyslexia as if it is my friend now. I also live with the fear of talking to people. The words my bullies said to me forever stick to me. While I must live with those words, I have friends that I am able to talk to now about my experience and talking about my experience to complete strangers has helped me heal in some ways.
It's a long road to recovery and yes you will have days that will be bad and yet some days will be good.
As 2016 approaches, I am reminded of my bullying and how I survived. It will be soon be nine years since my bullying started and five years when it ended. I read stories about children being bullied and some seeing suicide as the only option left.
If I could give any advice, it would be this. It gets better and sometimes you will meet total strangers that will save you from the pain and mental anguish. Suicide is never the answer. I have had very close friends of mine see suicide as the only option and the only thing that happens is more pain and sorrow that has a lasting effect.
So if you are being bullied and you’re reading this, remember that you’re not the only one out there. There are others out there who share your pain and there is a light at the end of the tunnel of darkness. No matter how bleak it is, light always prevails.
Something that helps me everyday is reading a quote from my favorite TV show. Sound a little nerdy but it's the little things that help.
“The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things. The good things don’t always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don’t always spoil the good things and make them unimportant.”
-11th Doctor (Doctor Who)
I had red hair and freckles in school. I was always teased. I was also a stutterer. It had affected my self- confidence until today.
As the title warns you, I will be incredibly cynical in this post. I am writing about something that I have loads of experience with: the bullying protocols in American public schools. And, as any grade school veteran will attest, they never work.
School anti-bullying programs literally never work.
I mean, seriously, what good is telling the bully to stop when you know those four small letters can’t even move a subatomic particle? What good is the teacher taking recess away from the bully–everyone knows they’ll beat you up outside of school.
To give you a real-life example of the futility of school anti-bullying programs, I will tell you the story of a classmate of mine from grade school. Let’s call him William. William was a transfer student to my school because at his previous school, his life was literally being threatened by bullies. According to him, he would get his head slammed into a locker an average of 3 to 5 times a day. From this, he had six concussions in two years, and because of the concussions, along with traumatic brain injuries, William got diagnosed with ADHD, behavioral disorder, and dyslexia that he did not have before. And guess what the teachers did about it?
Zip. Zilch. Nada.
When the head slamming started, William’s parents talked to his teacher, and William’s teacher notified the principal about it. The principal then notified William’s teacher about it. It was literally a volley: it went back and forth between William’s teacher and the principal. This volley lasted two years, and William and his parents eventually had to take the bully and the bully’s parents to court because the school did nothing about the problem. Afterwards, William had to transfer to my school, which was halfway across town from his house.
That story is 100% true, and it’s not the only scenario in which bullying was taken too far. If I listed all of them, I would be typing here for the next month or so. Having observed quite a few of these scenarios, I have come up with a proposal for an ideal anti-bullying protocol.
This protocol would not revolve around telling the bullies to stop bullying because some people are just so hurt and broken inside that they need to take it out on others; it’s human nature. It would not involve teaching kids to stand up for themselves and others because I know from experience that sticking up for myself takes bullying from bad to worse.
The first part of this protocol would be making every effort possible to separate the bully and the victim. Their lockers would be on opposite sides of the school and they could not be in classes or paired up for projects together. But the central element of this protocol would be victim empowerment. Instead of holding a “Don’t Be a Bully” assembly, schools could hold a “You’re Awesome and Amazing” assembly. Being the victim of bullying hurts, both mentally and physically. Victims of bullying need to be told that they are loved, worthy, incredible, special, smart, beautiful, courageous, kind, and compassionate by their teachers, peers, friends, and family. They need to have hope for a better future and that everything evens out eventually, and just hang in there until it gets better. Most importantly, it is NEVER the victim’s fault if they get bullied. The bullies are just so sad and negative on the inside that they need to spread their bad vibes everywhere.
WARNING: EXTREME CYNICISM AHEAD
Finally, if any of you amazing humans reading this post right now are the victims of bullying, I have some advice: DO NOT talk to the bully. Do whatever you can to avoid the bully at all costs. Explain the situation to the teacher and tell them to please not pair you up for any projects or assignments. They will understand you, trust me, I’ve had to do this once or twice in my schooling career. If you see them in your path, go to the other side of the building and take the opposite stairway. I know it’s not fair that you have to do all of this work and the bully gets to do whatever they want, trust me, coming into contact with the bully will only make the situation worse.
Most importantly, surround yourself with friends and family that love you for who you are. There will always be haters, but block the haters out. Haters don’t exist in your world. Lovers do. Find the lovers and stick with them. Those bullies are not worth your time.
And, so, we returned to the school with confidence, and paperwork from his pediatrician as well as the main school district. Unfortunately, the principal literally tossed it back to us and said, "We are a private school; we don't make special arrangements for anyone,". Ugh. But, we still tried, to our frustration, anger and tears until it was just too much, even with the school district providing special tutors twice a week. His third-grade classroom teacher tried, I think, but with no one else backing her up it was just fruitless, and what had been an A+ average fell to a C. He was upset, depressed; felt like he'd been placed outside of society somehow, but didn't understand why. He kept telling me that the school authority was "out to get him", and while I tried to convince him otherwise, I had a hard time convincing myself.
Maybe it was inappropriate, maybe it wasn't. To this day I don't know. But I sent my son out into the hallway and I went off. I don't even remember every word I said, but it doesn't matter. Suffice it to say, they expelled my son that day. (My younger son, however, was still enrolled.) This time, however, I was too angry to panic. I already had two friends that lived close to me that happily homeschooled their daughters, so I started looking immediately online for resources, and found an amazing Cyber Academy for my state, that was accredited through the public school system. (And even though he and his staff were as unhelpful and downright rude as possible about getting me the records I required to enroll him somewhere else, I still managed.)
And I got to have some special one-on-one time with my buddy that I hadn't in a while, because he had fits of frustration about me helping him with homework, saying it was "baby". But now that I am his learning coach, we do almost everything together, and that gap I was starting to feel with my boy started shrinking away. Naturally, once the next school year began, I had started his younger brother in the Cyber Academy as well. And they are both doing great. Both are happier, more relaxed. And even though they don't see other children five days a week, they still have friends that they can get together with, which is great.