Friday, October 1, 2010

Stop the Bullying – Stop the Madness

Yesterday on Twitter quite a lot of people were Tweeting about bullying. Many people commenting and responding to the tragic death of a young man who jumped off the GW Bridge in New York after his roommate filmed and then broadcasted him having sex with another man. Of course he’s not the only young person to be bullied or teased to the point of no return. There are more and more stories of young man/women who just can’t stand the taunting and pain any longer so they kill them selves or they get a gun and they just start shooting. It’s tragic on a lot of levels.

I tweeted a few myself. I remember being bullied and teased mercilessly in elementary and junior high. The faces of most of the kids who did it to me in are pretty much a blur. The bizarre thing is when one type of teasing stopped it seemed like another one just started up again. I remember screwing up a word in a spelling bee in our 5th grade classroom and the kids teased me almost non-stop for months afterwards. In 6th grade I was teased daily because of my overbite.

I remember being teased because I didn’t “bloom” when the other girls did and was one of a few girls who wasn’t yet wearing a training bra. I can’t remember if that was 6th or 7th grade but I DO remember the pain and embarrassment. I remember begging my mom to buy me one just so I’d “fit in” and the teasing would stop.

… But it didn’t…

Then I was teased to tears for not shaving my legs. Begged my mom to let me shave.

Then I was teased to tears for having a bad overbite. How many 6th graders do you know who begged for braces? I did.

Then I was teased for being a brace-face. Sigh…

Then I was teased for not having a boyfriend. Then I was teased when several of the kids thought it would be funny to send me notes pretending to be a secret admirer. Yeah, that was real funny what that all finally blew up.

One teasing would end and another would start. Something different each year until around 8th or 9th grade. I’m not sure why it stopped but that’s where my memory of the teasing ends.

It’s shocking to me to think how little help I got from my teachers. I remember kids openly teasing me in front of a teacher and he/she would say nothing. They would just look the other day. My parents tried to help but honestly that just made the teasing worse – “Ooh, you Mommy had to come to school. Big Baby….” In that sing-songy way that bullies do. By not saying anything, the teachers were basically telling the bullies it’s OK.

It’s NOT OK. It was NEVER OK.

The point is this all happened to me years ago and when I think about it still it hurts as much now as it did then.  It's like a knife sticking into my chest and I can't breath for a moment. The effects of the teasing have affected my life in ways that no one realizes. I have self-esteem issues that go all the way back to elementary school.  I expect very little from people.  Expect negativity from people.  I'm surprised when people are good and nice.  That's so backward, right?

I don’t know what the answer is, but something has to change. Parents have to do a better job with their kids. Schools have to do a better job with discipline and punishment of bullies and bullying behavior. Parents and Schools have to send a message to kids that it’s OK to be different and it’s not OK to make fun of people who are different.

We can’t let kids in school be bullied/teased to tears. We can’t accept that it’s OK to film your college roommate and broadcast it world-wide because he’s a fag.

We just can’t

The madness has to stop.

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