Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Talk About It Tuesday: Bullying

This is actually a subject very close to my heart because I was bullied when I was young. And all four of my kids have experienced it on different levels. So I tend to step right up when I hear children are being bullied.

We don't realize it but there are different types of bullying. It isn't always that big kid stealing people's lunch money or beating kids up in the yard after school. There are many subtle ways that kids are being bullied these days that rip away at the very fiber of their being and, trust me when I say, these are pivotal events that change a person. They effect who you are, how you feel about yourself and how you treat and react to others.

Here's my personal story:

When I was in Grade Four, my best friend at the time took piano lessons from my mom. Long story short, I had years of experience under my belt with the piano so music came easy to me. She struggled. One time, we both went for our piano exams at the same time. I was at a higher level than she'd been at, but that shouldn't have mattered. I scored a 97% on mine and she almost failed hers. That started a battle I didn't even realize I was accused of starting.

I came to school the next day, excited about a field trip we were going on, and while on the school bus taking us there I'd realized things weren't right. No one would sit beside me on the bus, my 'friend' sat whispering with some of the other girls at the front of the bus, I was shoved/tripped/pushed during the field trip, she made everyone sit together for lunch while I sat alone then I was shoved off the bus after.

Then things got worse.

It got so bad that no one would sit next to me in school or stand around me in line up. My mom and teacher tried doing something about it but it only made things even worse to the point where I actually had to be excused early from school because I'd get chased home.

It took a long time to get over it, especially since this girl was my best friend...someone I trusted. But I never fought back. I took the name-calling, the meanness, the hitting and the loneliness. Then at the end of the year, the principal, during our last day assembly, announced a special award called, "Citizenship Award". It was created to be given to those who persevere and do their best, for themselves and others, without violence, anger or bullying. I was given this award. After the ceremony, I had three girls come up to me and apologize, saying they never wanted to do what they had done to me but they were afraid of the girl who started everything.

The point of my story? Bullying happens to kids and adults. It happens in many forms: name-calling, teasing, hurtful words, getting people to do/say things, spreading rumors or gossip, belittling or even possessing someone to the point they don't feel they can be their own person. And now with the Internet, there is an even more powerful way to hurt others. And trust me when I say that words can hurt alot more than fists. Bruises heal, words stick.

Preventing bullying is a community thing. It takes parents, teachers, other kids and everyone to stop it. My kids have all experienced it and they are going to an 'Anti-Bullying' school, so it still happens under rules against it.

Let's work together. Self-esteem is such a hard thing to re-build.

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