Saturday, October 8, 2011

On The Subject of Bullies...

I was recently talking with someone about the bullying that was happening when I was in school (elementary through high school).  I had always known that some kids, myself included, had been teased or picked on, but I was completely unaware of the violent behaviour with which some of my classmates had to live.  I wasn't totally naive - I knew that such things existed, but even now I find it very hard to accept that these situations were happening under my nose.  I can only imagine the daily hell that those kids endured and I sincerely hope that in the end they were able to get out from under it and move forward without too much lasting trauma.  No one of any age deserves this type of abuse.

I was never a popular child, but I seemed to be able to get along adequately with most people in all of my schools.  Even in high school I generally felt comfortable whether I was talking to the Athletes or the Keeners or the Druggies.  I think having a few close friends made the day to day grind easier to maneuver.

I do remember one incident in grade 8 that has stuck with me for both good and bad reasons.  I was walking across the school field on my way home after school and was in effect swarmed by a boy and his friend.  They were on their bikes and were riding circles around me while verbally taunting me.  It really scared me and I guess I kind of snapped.  As the main boy rode past me I did a kind of roundhouse kick and knocked him over and yelled at him "FUCK YOU!"  If you knew me then you would know that this was completely out of character for me.  Swear words did not come out of my mouth....ever....especially that caliber of swear word!!  I then took the opportunity of their surprise and ran home, crying the whole way.

Upon arriving my mother insisted I tell her what was wrong so I told her the whole story, including some prior incidences with the same boy.  She immediately called the school and I was mortified.  How embarrassing to have my mommy fighting my battles and everyone would find out about what had happened and what I had done.  Yes - you heard that right - I was concerned about what people would think of MY BEHAVIOUR!!!

The next day I was called down to speak with the Vice Principal.  The boy was there too.  I was terrified that I was going to be in trouble and I was embarrassed about what this boy had put me through.  She sat us both down and asked me first to tell her what had happened.  I was completely honest and told her everything - even the part about the dreaded swear word.  She looked at me for a moment and then looked at him.  I waited in fear.  She then turned back to me and said "I would have done exactly the same thing.  You can go back to class now."  

That moment changed my life.  The Vice Principal showed me that I was allowed to stand up for myself.  Not only allowed, but encouraged.  She empowered me and I have held on to that power to this day.  It fuels my fire when I see injustices in the world.  It gives me the strength and confidence to stand up and say "NO!"  It's also given me a loud mouth and opinionated personality.  Some may find my soapbox irritating or obnoxious, but to those people I proudly say "Bite me!"  :)

That boy never bothered me again, although he did start to pick on a friend and I again stood up to him with my new found confidence (albeit with far less violence) and I'm pretty sure he didn't bother her any more either.

Bullying is something that I know goes on daily in our schools and even thereafter.  I hope that people of all ages can find strength in my story or from friends or authority figures.  The bullies are generally in the minority so if we all band together to stand up to them how can they possibly win???

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