Words can hurt....so can punches and kicks. I was bullied when I was a kid. It was horrible. There were two fellows, a grade above me and in the same class, that were the cause of all of this...and my anxiety.
I loved going to school every day. This where all my friends were. I enjoyed the school work as well - a geek, I know. Thank goodness for this motivation otherwise I might have not gone to school or have done something else more dramatic. Instead, I learned to run - and fast!
The sound of someone chasing you is terrifying. On a particular occasion, one of the boys got close enough to snatch the hat from my head. I remember running so hard once I thought I was going to explode.
In the schoolyard, I wasn’t protected from the taunts of “I’ll get you after school”. I stopped carrying ‘gum’ money in the event that one of the boys would catch up with me. I kept changing the way I went to school and would take the long way around to get to school and get myself out of harm’s way.
I said nothing and suffered in silence. Being afraid is horrible feeling. I understand what it means to suffer from anxiety.
Bullying is a big deal today and enabled further by cyberspace. Studies have shown that one in seven children between the ages of eleven and sixteen have been victims of bullies. One in four have been the victim of cyberbullying. Less than fifty percent of these incidents are reported. Many kids are afraid and unable to act. Some react.
Children are getting hurt with some taking their own lives to avoid the pain and torment. Every mean word said cannot be taken back. If you have children, you need to become aware of this issue and take action.
My daughter’s grade school has done a wonderful job of addressing the issue of bullying through awareness and action. There is a zero tolerance policy in place at the school. If you’re a bully and get caught, you’re in BIG trouble. All children are encouraged to stand up and say ‘no’ to bullies and to tell on them. It’s a safe environment. They keep it simple. If you are a bully, stop it. If you are not a bully, then you are a bystander. Your role as a bystander is to say no to bullies.
Empowered by choice and trust, my children have learned to stand up to their bullies and stand up for their friends. We speak openly about the topic at home to ensure they feel safe and strong. I faced my tormentors years ago. It was easier than I thought. I stood up to them and said ‘no more’. Afraid as I was, I did it. Relief is the best word to describe what I felt when it was all over. Empowerment and courage were healthy side effects.
Take action. Stop bullying. You can change, if not save, a life.