Bullying. You see it everywhere; in schools, the workplace, and in classic 80’s movies. The particular school that I go to makes me feel as if bullying doesn’t occur as often as it used to. When I walk to my classes or out at lunch I don’t see the stereotypical shoving and physical attacks that you see in Hollywood. However, bullying is very much alive and it is a plague that has overrun our country.
From personal experience, I can attest to the fact that bullying is one of the worst experiences a person can face. Having others constantly put you down and destroy your confidence can have ripple effects. Slowly but surely you can start losing your friends, start fighting with you parents, have your grades drop and even have it send you into a crippling depression. In my experience, it started when I was in eighth grade. I had just moved from Ohio and I was starting a new school. I was in a new state on the other side of the country. No friends, no family, just my parents, my sisters, and I. Starting a new school wasn’t the biggest thing to me due to the fact that I had been the “new girl” many times before. However, this new strange place was completely different from any of the other places I had been. At least when I moved from Washington to Ohio the concept of “seasons” was a shared thing. However, California was like a whole other planet. There were mountains as far as the eye could see and all around you the streets were dotted hideous palm trees. It was quite a sight to behold.
Now I vaguely remember when the bullying started. All I know is that it included a group of boys in my first period Digital Media class, who could only be described as obscene. At first, they would just bug me saying lewd things while I was in their presence. It got even worse when the principal asked me to do a project for her that included doing a digital rendering of our school mascot. They didn’t stop there. During second semester the whole class switched over to the Photoshop class that was taught by one of my to-be-soon favorite teachers. One could only describe Mrs. W as a firecracker and a person who didn’t have time for anyone else’s crap!
During this course, the heckling continued to get worse. If I made even one mistake they would blatantly insult and harass me about it for weeks-on-end. Their favorite put-down being “nerd”. Now at this point in my life, I was very assured of myself, and their insults rolled off my back. This was mainly due to the fact that the blasphemy that spewed out of their mouths had absolutely no creativity or an ounce of eloquence. However, poor Mrs. W would always come to my defense, forever assuring me that I was not a so-called “nerd”. Throughout the short period of time that I spent at Ramona, I really began to see a pattern in which my peers would attempt to belittle me. I could tell that whenever I would excel in my academics the kids would go out of their way to point out that I was a “teacher’s pet” or that I was a “try-hard”. Obviously, from the contempt in their voices, I could tell that they meant it in a malicious way. Though their words never affected me. Having been an immigrant myself there are a lot of hardships that I have experienced. Through those, I have grown a thick skin and learned that other people’s opinions of you shouldn’t always be the most important thing; that being confident in yourself and who you are as a person should always be number one.
I understand that I am very lucky. Lucky that the harassment that ensued all year was minimal compared to what others have experienced. Lucky that my life experiences have nurtured my confidence in a way most don’t get to experience. Sadly, on the other hand, I know many people who weren’t so lucky; people who have reached their breaking point. It is important that people remember that they are not alone. Even though I never directly talked to a teacher or my parents about the kids, it was always reassuring to know that Mrs. W was there; to talk, to lend a shoulder, to lend an ear. So if you are experiencing bullying please go and find a person that you are comfortable talking to, whether it be a teacher, a parent, a sibling, or a friend. If you are a person who has witnessed bullying please go out of your way to help the other in need; be their friend. If you are a bullier know that in life everyone experiences hardships and if you need to talk please look for help, open up and know that things can get better and that putting others down isn’t the only way. Finally to teachers and administrators. You should know that saying that the school doesn’t tolerate bullying is only half the battle. You must make sure to enforce a no bullying policy so that all of you students can experience a safe and positive learning environment. To simply put it, all of us will experience some sort of bullying in our lives. Let us show a little humanity and help those who are in need of a friend.
The following are links and numbers to resources regarding bullying:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or at 1-800-273-8255
Also, I would highly suggest the movie A Girl Like Her which voices the experience of thousands of teens across the country.