Bullying has been a part of life from the beginning of time.
That statement does not erase the effects that those words and behaviors have on a person. No amount of apologies or take backs can heal that scar the victim will wear the rest of their life.
We read about nasty kings from the old days, the ones who would tax the people beyond their abilities just to make them miserable and their purses heavier. They would steal brides from their new husbands and take their virginity just because they could. They would devise the burning of homes and crops to force people to bend to them. This is bullying, right?
It seems that every television show has to have a protagonist who has to make someone’s life pretty miserable. Even family shows like “Little House on the Prairie”, for all its goodness and value, Nellie Olsen was just an evil person. Watching that show, however, did not prepare me for the bullying I would endure through my middle school and high school years. So did that show “teach” the concept that bullying is okay? Well, I don’t think so. If anything, it showed that the good can prevail…that other people do grow up eventually.
I had a handful of kids that liked to tease me mercilessly, from slamming my locker shut on me to calling obscenities…many of which I didn’t even understand…, and those who would wait for me after a religious class and muss up my hair asking if I had horns under there. I could name two girls who would wait for me to get off the bus and spray shaving cream in my hair, blow up condoms and say horrid things. I could go on. If I showed any of the emotion that was ripping out my insides, they would come at me all the more. I didn’t have a leader I felt I could turn to…and if I spoke up, who knew what they would do to me then!
Eventually, I really struggled to find acceptance. There were girls who pretended to be my friends and then just drop me at the drop of a hat. There were some, guys and girls, who are still my friends today. But I sacrificed some as I tried to gain others. In the end, I felt as though I didn’t belong anywhere. I imagined that every kind word anyone dared to say toward me was with an evil intention. I acted out to gain attention…
Now that I have children, I have become very protective over them. Will I ever know the extent of what happens to them in school? As I trust others to keep my kids safe…mentally and physically? Probably not. I do my very best to pump up their self-esteem so that the bullies of the world cannot touch them but I wonder if even my power as “Mom” can withstand the abuse from other children.
My 15 year old son has struggled with acceptance and has been dealing with bullying at his school. While I understand that this is commonplace anymore, it sucks to relive those dark and terrible days with him. He has found an outlet in martial arts and boxing. For quite a while, he has been able to hide his temper when others aggravate him. But just last week, he was tormented by another student until he finally snapped. That moment suspended him for two days, a light sentence I know, however, my thoughts stray to this kid who thought he was so cool to get my son to react to his abusive words. Who has taught this kid that it is okay to badger another human being until they retaliate? Is it the parents, or lack thereof, television, peer pressure? I would just like to know how someone can justify ruining another’s life, their self image, their hopes of fitting in at such an awkward time in life.
I am not the sort of person I feel I should have been. I am jaded. I don’t trust people. I look in the mirror and see a monster in the glass. I struggle daily with my sense of self-worth. So when I speak to someone, I do evaluate how my remark will make them feel. However, I am human and I have slipped when I feel my line has been crossed. But I don’t remember a time in my entire life that I have felt that it is okay to damage another’s frame of mind.
As parents, writers, and social media participants, we should be setting the example that it is NOT okay to be a part of this sort of behavior. The sad truth is that some do not know the difference. We are allowing this trend to grow rampant and it needs to be squashed. Freedom of speech is one thing…assault on another human being (whether words or actions) is not. It should never be.
When I write, I do indeed have a protagonist. I have bullies…they are a part of life. However, I find solutions to rid my world of them. Real life is no different. I would like to walk up to those who had mistreated me as a kid and slap their faces! But you know, that makes me no different than them. I am better than that. But if I get my hands on the kid who thinks it is funny to torment my son, and we will have meet your maker kind of meeting. I do not wish my experiences on anyone, much less my own child.
So be on the lookout for some nasty ends to some terrible bullies of the medieval times. I won’t tolerate it even if it is all made up!