Kids grow up so fast. It won't be long and my daughter will be attending school. My husband and I were recalling grade school memories the other day, both good and bad. For me, the latter always comes back to being bullied in the second grade. Mary (not her real name, though I still remember it; I doubt she remembers mine) was much larger than me, and sometimes even my friend. She would invite me to play or sit next to her at lunch, then would make fun of me, call me names, and threaten to hurt me (though fortunately, she never did physically). She even threatened that various family members of hers would come to school to beat me up (and one day, a cousin did come with with her, but fortunately, both just teased me for liking the color pink, then left.) This went on for a year, until one day, she approached me seeming both unusually sad and nice. "I'm moving," she said. "I won't be going to school here anymore." I still remember standing in our schoolyard, frozen with disbelief, my heart racing with the purest joy I've ever felt.
My memories of being bullied are so vivid, because they affected me very deeply. For many years, once I grew to be a not-so-scrawny girl, I dreamed of meeting her and giving her a piece of my mind (and occasionally, I threw a fist in there too). You see, I told my parents of what was going on right away, but they just told me to ignore her. I don't think they knew what to do about it and thought it was just the idle threats of second-graders, harmless stuff. I told my teacher, and she even paid a visit to Mary's house, after which Mary told me if I ever told anyone again, I would be in even bigger trouble than before, so I never said another word to anyone about it.
It wasn't until adulthood that I realized maybe Mary was a victim too. On one occasion, she mentioned her mom hitting her. I think she might possibly have been the victim of abuse, which is why she might have turned to bullying. I also wonder if her moving to another place might have been the result of a teacher probing into a domestic situation her family didn't want made known.
The upside is that by being bullied, I became very sensitive to others being bullied. When I was an older school child, I even had the courage to intervene and help kids out when they were becoming victims. It's too bad that back in 1983, bullying wasn't taken very seriously. I think Mary and I could have benefitted more from the situation if the adults in our lives did more to try to resolve the problem. Unfortunately for her, I'm not sure the adults in her life cared enough to bother. But I wish mine did more to put a stop to it. I know many parents and educators believe in letting kids resolve their own problems. I think that's important too. However, when that's not possible, intervention is necessary. At least, now I know that if my daughter ever finds herself in such a situation, I'll be with her ever step of the way until it's resolved, whether that means just lending her emotional support or intervening directly. No matter what age kids are, bullying hurts! And its effects last a lifetime.
For more on stopping bullying, visit Stop Bullying Now!
'Til Next Time,