This post was written in response and support of Carley’s Anti-bullying campaign.
When I was in second grade, there was a boy who’s last name rhymed with potty. I’m sure you can only imagine the things he was called because of that. It never occurred to my seven-year-old brain to feel bad for the boy or to defend him because he was mean to me. He sat next to me in class and told me daily that I was a boy because I had a boy’s name. He’d even refer to me using the masculine pronoun. Thankfully the boy moved away after second grade, and I didn’t have to put up his taunts anymore. But I can only wonder about whether he became the bully or the bullied at his next school, perhaps he was both, I’ll probably never know.
In highschool a group of girls I’d been friends with since first grade, suddenly decided to “dump me.” Via aim, I was called a slew of profanity and told that I could no longer be friends with them, all because I’d supposedly made a move on the ringleader’s crush. I remember the week leading up to the confrontation at school and the following aim conversation. I remember hysterically, violently crying in my bed while my mom held me, enraged, wanting to take action. I wouldn’t let her; I knew that it would only get worse if she got the school administration involved. I can see on Facebook, that the group that was so mean to me in highschool are all still friends, and I still feel ostracized when I’ve run into them in town.
I don’t consider my experiences with bullying to be that terrible compared to what I know other kids had to deal with, what kids are still dealing with today. While, I remember exactly how I felt about these two experiences being bullied, I cannot possibly remember the countless times I stood by and watched others being bullied, becoming an unwilling participant just by my inability to speak up against it. The people doing the bullying ranged from acquaintances to friends to the popular crowd. I was too afraid that I’d end up the next victim, so I always kept my mouth shut.
Here’s the thing, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who wanted to defend those being bullied and maybe if I had been strong enough to speak up, the others would’ve too. So this is what I want to add to the discussion that Carley started; it’s never okay to bully another person but it’s also not okay to stand by and watch it happen. We have to teach kids to be courageous despite possible outcomes. We have to stand up for eachother because we all have something that makes us different.