Too many kids have been in the news lately after they committed suicide, because of the bullying they went through due to their sexual orientation. Every time I see one of these stories it hurts deeply. Way too many kids are harassed by other kids and the reasons vary. It’s not just the gay kids. I know.
It’s important for people to know that many kids are bullied, for many different reasons. If a boy or girl has a characteristic that stands out – too shy, too skinny, too heavy, big ears, greasy hair, a lisp, disability, sexual orientation, or any number of traits – they are a prime target. For me it started out because I was a little too heavy.
When I was a kid we moved a lot, and I actually enjoyed it. I looked at every move as an adventure. It was fun to make new friends, set up my bedroom in the new house, and start in at a new school every year. Then, when we moved and I started sixth grade at a new school I thought we’d moved to hell!
From the minute I started sixth grade, I was the kid to be bullied. The minute (yes, literally, the minute) I walked through the door to my classroom, I was given a nickname by one of the nastiest kids in the school. That nickname stuck all through junior high and things got progressively worse over the three years that I went to that school. I was laughed at, called every name under the sun, my possessions were destroyed, I was tripped as I walked through the halls, I was set up in humiliating situations, got harassing phone calls . . . the list goes on and on. I have some extremely bad memories that I won’t type out, and others that I’ve forced myself to forget because they were just too painful.
Every day I would hold in my anger, fear, sadness, and a host of other unpleasant emotions all day and then go home and sleep, cry, and often cry myself to sleep. I had always been a happy, well-adjusted little girl who could make friends easily and didn’t understand why things had flip-flopped at this school (that’s something I’m sure I’ll never understand). It was hell.
I never went so far as to attempt suicide but there were times I wished I had never been born. So, I can certainly understand many of the thoughts and emotions the kids in the news recently must have been thinking and feeling before taking their own lives. It’s a torture I wouldn’t wish on anyone!
Instead of escaping through suicide, I got involved in 4-H and other activities where I made friends from different schools. They didn’t know what my school life was like and weren’t part of the bullying. So, in a sense I lived in two different worlds – the one where I was bullied and the one where I was an achiever with many friends. When I wasn’t spending time with my friends I could go to my bedroom, shut the door, and feel safe with my books, pets, and music. Nobody could get to me. Even so, the words and actions of the bullies stayed with me wherever I went. It was a lot for a little kid to deal with.
Things have changed since I was bullied though. As bad as the bullying was that I experienced, today’s bullying is worse. Nowadays, there is no safe haven. The bullies can get to a kid anywhere and everywhere, and thanks to the speed of texting, tweeting, etc. a small crowd of bullies can turn into a huge crowd. It still hurts when I think about what I went through, and I can’t imagine what it would be like to have all of that multiplied many times over. It’s no wonder kids have killed themselves because of it. They have to feel like the hatred is closing in on them and giving them no choice.
Regardless of whether a kid is gay, fat, skinny, a minority, or whatever the case may be, he or she should not be bullied because of it! If you see bullying of any kind – cyber or otherwise – please don’t turn the other way! Believe me, when you do that, the one being bullied notices, and it hurts even more. I think I can safely speak for many who have been bullied when I say that it makes them feel the bullies are right, and that they somehow deserve what they’re getting. It looks to them like you’re sticking up for the buillies and even agreeing with them. Please don’t send that message. If you see someone who needs help, then do something to help! It’s not a stretch of the imagination to say that you may very well save that kid’s life!
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