In order to give you a more real life representation of the effects of bullying, I went to the social media site Facebook and posted this status:
Since I promised to keep my friends stories anonymous, I’m not going to screen shot the images, but I will copy and paste their stories for you to read.
This first story begins with the statement, “Amy, bullying can last a life time even though the bulling has stopped the words of unworthiness stick with you for ever so long.”
The author goes on to tell her story like this:
I grew up in Utah as a non-mormon. I have spent way too much of my life trying to prove that I am worthy enough to belong. Just because I am not what they (Mormons) thought I should be, does not mean that I am worth any less. I am more because I belong to the one true King. Some of those wounds have healed and others have left some scars; some wounds you never see and the wounds are harder to heal and scar because the wounds remain open far too long. By His might and power I am healed and, finally, their words are starting to hurt less.
People do NOT fully realize the power that their words have. The bible says in Proverbs 18:21 that “death and life are in the power of the tongue…” so, in other words what you say to someone and how you say it to them can either edify and encourage them or it can deeply wound them. One of my friends, Aaron Corey, always says, “You can’t backspace the things you say.” Once those words have come out of your mouth, you can NEVER take them back and you cannot erase them from the person’s mind that you injured.
Our next story breaks my heart. It serves as an example of how, many times, when teachers and administrators are aware of bulling, yet they won’t step in and help out the victim.
My friend’s story begins like this:
I moved to a new school in 8th grade and I had the hardest time ever. It all started on the bus with other girls throwing stuff at me and calling me names(this was daily). I always told the bus driver but nothin ever happened. From 9th grade and on, it just continued to get more severe! They were throwing my book bag out the window, calling me a whore, tripping me up,(once again nothing happened when told the principal-said I had no proof and no one on the bus would speak up). 10th and 11th grade were even worse! I was beat up in the bathroom, spit on and cut with a knife! (I had proof then; I videotaped it) The girls got suspended for 10 days<—-slap on the hand if you ask me. They returned from suspension and were pisted off!!! This then lead into 4-5 girls jumping me at one time! Enough was enough! My mom said since no one will do anything that I needed to fight back, so the next day I got back on the bus, got picked on, went to school, got laughed at, and got back on bus to go home. I listened to more taunts and waited, waited for the stop before mine, then I jumped on them getting off the bus! Almost cost me from graduating, until the bus videos for 4 years were finally pulled and they saw what had happened to me for 4 years. The girls weren’t able to walk with the class and my last few months of 12th grade went smooth!
Day in and day out my friend was picked on and tortured and no one would do anything. What does that say about our society? The other kids on the bus would not speak up about the way this person was being treated. I recently found the thesis work of Lori Goldammer in which she explores the demographic profiles and psychosocial correlations of students who would actually intervene if they saw someone being bullied. Interestingly enough, she found that students in grades 6th – 12th, who were female and who were white, was the most likely demographic to intervene when they saw someone being bullied. (http://bit.ly/1fIoKaU)
This next story comes from another friend of mine. Bullying doesn’t just affect people personally, but it also affects the relationships that they form. For this friend, the pain that she suffered caused her to put up a solid wall around her and not let anyone in.
So, for my last year of middle school, I moved to a new school and I really didn’t know anyone. All of my other friends stayed at my old middle school so I was alone. Well, I was walking down the hallway one day and this girl stopped me and said “nice purse” to which I thought she was being serious and replied “thanks” she rolled her eyes and I realized she had the same exact bag as me. It was a 10 dollar target bag…nothing all that special. Well, she began to bully me. I was stopped in hallways and threatened and whenever I would take my tray to the cafeteria, she would step away from her table and threaten me to try to go around her. Everyday when I walked into the school, she was waiting there to yell and harass me. This happened for months and months until I finally told my mom that I didn’t want to go to school. I was in tears but wouldn’t tell her why. My mom finally got it out of me and called the principle. The principle put down some sort of restraining order that made it so that if she approached me again, she would be suspended. I felt scared and hated school. It was a lonely time, but looking back I realize that the girl who bullied me was the one with low self esteem and she was the one who had the problem, not me. After middle school I decided to be “tough” and stop caring what others thought of me because it would stop bullys from targeting me. So being bullied hardened me towards other people, if that makes sense. I, ofcourse, grew out of all of that later on, but being bullied in middle school affected me whole life, my self esteem, and my trust towards other people.
This friend decided that she needed to be ‘tough.’ She put up a wall in order to keep herself from being hurt again. I don’t blame her. I did the same thing for awhile until I found a group of real friends who liked me just the way I am. Bullying is not a momentary occurrence. It truly is something that you carry for the rest of your life.
Let’s take a little break and examine this clip from A Christmas Story.
My dad always loved this movie, but I had the total opposite reaction to it. I know some people may be shocked and offended, but I HATE that movie! Why? Because I can’t stand to see the way that Ralphie is treated by his family, how he is bullied and especially the scene where Santa Claus treats him so, so cruelly. I find absolutely nothing funny about that movie, well aside from the leg lamp table. This movie, at least for me, is a slap in the face to the true meaning of Christmas. The first time I watched the movie, I kept waiting for the three Ghosts from Dickens A Christmas Carol to step in and slap these people upside the head and show them how their words and their actions affect others. Now, lets return to the stories.
Now, what happens when the adults who are supposed to be our role models, our teachers and the people that we can trust, are actually the bullies. This story come from another friend who shares her story regarding a teacher friend who bullied her and her friends. The teacher ad a lot of issues and her issues spilled over and influenced her students. Here is her story:
I grew up riding horses. My horse friends and me spent every waking hour at the barn that was owned by our riding instructor. Inevitably, she became a second mother type figure for us. She had many issues she needed to work through that she projected on us-she would talk to us like we were her friends rather than her students, telling us details of her life and failing marriage that we had no business knowing at our young age. She would even ask us for advice. She was a feminist and man hater-to this day I’ve never heard her say anything nice about a man. She had body image issues as well, and made sure we had them too. I’ll never forget her telling me that because I have broad shoulders and narrow hips that I look like a football player. This still bothers me and at times I really struggle with feeling feminine. She also had a way of discouraging us. I always wanted to be a chiropractor. I’ll never forget her looking me straight in the face and telling me, in front of all my friends, that I couldn’t “hack it” in chiropractic school.
Terrible huh? A teacher, a mother figure who projects her own issues onto her students and makes them feel just as bad she did. As my friend said in her above post, she still deals with not only the memories of what was said to her, but also the insecurities that they sparked inside of her. Adults strongly influence the self image and self esteem of the children that they care for or raise. Most likely this teacher was a broken or wounded woman who thought that she could make herself better, but instead she caused fear and doubt.
People are different and when people are different they are ostracized. That’s what happened to my friend in the following story. As she explains in her story, she has severe ADHD and has a different and wonderful personality, but because she was seen as ‘quirky’ she was deemed an outcast in school. Here’s her story:
- All growing up, I was an outcast because of my loud and eccentric personality cased by my severe ADHD. Of course, we didn’t know much about ADHD back then. Kids always picked on me, and my peers didn’t want to be seen talking to me, let alone be my friend. The only friend I had from elementary through middle school was also a social outcast. I was very gullible, so kids would often get me to fall for pranks and say bad things. It was embarrassing and made me feel horrible. I so desperately wanted to fit it, I went along with what they said because they told me they weren’t going to be mean. I remember very explicitly trying as hard as I could to talk to new students and make friends with them before other students would talk to them. I hoped that they would see I was actually normal and nice before their head’s were filled with lies and intimidation from my peers. I have one very specific memory of this exact situation in my seventh grade science class. I even remember where I was in the room, what a peer said about me, and the look, reaction, and ignoring that followed from the new student. It wasn’t until I got into high school that I started making some friends and acquaintances. As a result of all these bad experiences, I am now quite socially maladjusted. I still try too hard to fit in, and am frequently left out. I don’t know how to fit in or be a part of a group. I often find myself trying to make myself part of a conversation or a group, but almost always end up standing away from the crowd to watch all the other adults laugh and have a good time without me. I don’t have many “friends” (and only two real friends who live in another state), and never get asked to go places or just hang out. I try hard to remember to watch how I interact with peers and how eccentric I act. I wouldn’t say that I’m still intentionally bullied today, but the impacts of being bullied as a child and teen continue to have lasting implications on my entire life.
So, what would you do if you witnessed one of these accounts? Would you speak up and defend the person, would you join in with the bullying in order to be ‘included’ or would you just stand on the sidelines saying nothing. I think that Taylor Swift’s “Mean” is the perfect anthem to end these stories on. This is great because she shares some of the issues that she’s dealt with regarding bullies.