Monday, December 5, 2011

When will the bullying stop?

A video has been circulating around my friends pages on Facebook, and I just watched it today. It was one of the most emotional and heart wrenching things I have ever watched. My heart ached for this boy as he fell apart on camera.

There have been numerous reports circulating the Internet that the boy is a fraud, but he is real. Whether or not you believe that he is being bullied, the message is important and it shows the way many children do feel every day of their lives.

In case you have not seen the video, it was created by a boy named Jonah. He is an 8th grader that is continuously bullied, which has led to him cutting himself and feeling suicidal. He admits that suicide has been an option, but he is "stronger than that" and will not go through with it.

I sat watching the video as the boy switched the index cards on the screen. He did not say a single word, he let his feelings come through with words written on cards and the emotions that showed on his face. I can only hope and pray that this video changes something in his life, and makes things easier for him.

The word bullying hits a very personal note with me. I grew up in area where I had plenty of friends both in and out of school. Before I started middle school, we moved to a new area. I was the new girl and found myself in a strange and unfamiliar place. I had no friends, and the people in the area were not interested in being my friends. I was constantly subjected to questions (more like interrogations) from other students at my new school about where I was from, what it was like where I used to live, etc. I tried to be nice, but they would often laugh at me and make jokes about where I had moved from, even though they had no clue where it was. The silly teasing was only the beginning.

I rode the bus with children that ranged in age from 10 to 18. It was wrong, and I do not think older teenagers that are practically adults should be riding a bus with children that young. There was an incident on the bus one day that made the bullying turn from harmless jokes to something much more serious. I had boys throwing coins at my head, asking me what they could get for it. (I was 11 years old). I had a boy spit in my hair, and others threw spit balls at me. The bus driver could have cared less, she ignored it and even encouraged it at one point.

I ran off the bus at the first stop and  fell down crying at home. I stood in the shower for what seemed like forever, trying to remove the disgusting filth that I felt was covering me. From that point on, the bullying just got worse.

I was tormented in the halls, in the classroom, and on the bus. I had notes taped to my back and boys would kick me in the halls at school. Girls made fun of my clothes, my hair, my makeup. It was like living in a nightmare that I could not escape.

I was fortunate and made a few friends during high school, but it didn't matter, the bullying continued. I started skipping school and went from a straight A student to one that was failing all of her classes. I started cutting myself and experienced other very dark moments during my teenage years. Finally, it became apparent that something needed to be done and the principal spoke with me about transferring to night school, and hopefully I wouldn't fail any grades. I did not reveal the problems I had with bullying, everyone thought I was just lazy or a bad kid that wouldn't come to school.

I don't think my mother knew the full extent of the bullying. I know that she does know about it now, and it breaks her heart that I went through that. It was not her fault, she took me out of an area that was full of drugs, violence, and gangs. She moved me to what was supposed to be a nice area with great schools and friendly people. Who knew that the some of the worst bullies were the kids that are supposed to be the "good ones?"

So, I post all of this to say that anyone can be effected by bullies and anyone can be a bully. However, it has got to stop. When I watched the video of Jonah, I nearly fell apart as I could relate to his feelings so well. He didn't need to say a word, and you could read the pain in his eyes.

Where are the teachers? Where are the parents? When it happened to me, I hid a lot of it, but there were people that witnessed it. No one helped me and no one did anything to stop it. How many stories do we have to hear about children committing suicide before someone does something about the bullying? The Internet has made it even easier for children to be bullied, as the bullies can hide behind the computer and tear apart someone that way. Where are these children's parents? In my experience, some parents don't care, others think it is "harmless fun, " some are oblivious to it, and others think their child would never be a bully. The sad thing is, some parents are actually encouraging the bullying. They may not tell their children to be bullies, but they send the message that it is OK, every time they make a discriminatory remark about someone else in front of their children--the children get the message that it's OK to talk about other people like that. Someone has to help the children that are being bullied. 

What does being a bully do? Make someone feel better about them self? Help them get over the problems they have with insecurities and take attention away from themselves? Children need to realize that when the become a bully, they are breaking apart another person's spirit. They can tear that person down so much that it will eventually become too much for that person to handle. Sometimes, children like Jonah become stronger and fight everyday just to live and get through this time, while others--the pain becomes unbearable and they cannot take it anymore.

I want to raise my children to be kind and caring people, the kind that would stick up for someone who was being bullied, the kind that would never bully someone else, the kind of people that have a heart and compassion. I know this post is long, and I am probably rambling at this point, but the bullying has got to stop. My heart aches for every child out there that is bullied, and I will never let my children go through what I did.
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