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A life of being bullied: Speaking up for those who can’t

By | April 28, 2013 | Opinion

I was in the fourth grade, and I was completely convinced that my crush, Dominic, was completely into me.

This was huge. He was the most popular kid in class, and I, well, wasn’t.  I was so incredibly excited that I decided to confide in my cousin, who was dating his brother, and let her know about my crush – come to find out that her boyfriend told her that Dominic was planning to ask me out on that Friday.

I went home that day with butterflies in my stomach. As soon as I got home, I washed the one name-brand outfit I had so that I could wear it on Friday. The popular girls only had name-brand clothes, but because my family couldn’t afford it, I only had a few.

When Friday’s recess came, the popular girls quickly grabbed me, telling me that Dominic wanted to talk to me. I was so shy that they had to drag me over to him.

My little 10-year-old heart was pounding as he walked closer to me. I tried to walk away – I was so nervous.

But he quickly stopped me and said, “You don’t have to be so shy. I’m not going to ask you out. I can’t believe you even think I would.”

I turned around as fast as I could so that he wouldn’t see the tears come to my face. I was completely embarrassed. As I turned around, there was the group of popular girls laughing hysterically. The ringleader, out of breath from laughing, squeezed out, “Oh my gosh! You have no clue how long we have been planning that!”

It was all some sick joke.

From him being nice to me thinking he’d ask me out, to his brother telling my cousin he was going to ask me out so that she would tell me, and I would be overcome with excitement.

If only bullying was still this petty. Since then, bullying has gone to a whole other extreme, especially with social media in the mix. There are even pictures of young girls on Facebook where people post captions that say, “’Like’ if you think she’s ugly.”

Bullies will go to any lengths to make sure their victims know how much they are hated, making them feel unwanted and insignificant.  There are kids and teens who have been bullied to the extent that killing themselves is the only way to escape the hellhole they have to endure every day.

Right now, if you’re thinking, “Wow, really? No bully could be that bad,” then you must have been one of the lucky ones.

I was not that lucky. I went to a small K-8 grade school with about 30 kids in each class. It had a strong enrollment of kids with farming backgrounds and wealthy families.

I had no place where I fit. The popular girls didn’t want me around because I wasn’t like them. My mom couldn’t afford to buy me name-brand clothes. I wasn’t very athletic, and possibly even because my last name was Hispanic.

The other group of girls didn’t like me because I was too polite and girly. Fitting in was tough alone, but dealing with the bullying on top of it made going to school unbearable.

I once had a girl walk up to me in the school cafeteria while I was looking for a place to sit. She threatened to “beat the crap out of me” for supposedly spreading a rumor about her taking a pregnancy test at school. I was in tears instantly.

I pleaded with her that I didn’t even know what she had done. It turned out some girls in my class thought it would be funny to put the blame on me.

Now you’re thinking, “Well, why didn’t you tell someone?” One, I didn’t have to. There was a schoolyard lady feet away, who, I am sure, overheard the whole thing and did nothing.

Two, at that age, I thought it would only make things worse. So I dealt with it. Every day for months. Crying in bed every night, terrified of what my next day at school would be like and feeling lonely. Not having someone I could talk to about it or go to when I went to school.

I wish I could say that things got better at that small school, and that it now enforces a “No Tolerance” policy for bullying – but it doesn’t.

One of my brothers was called vulgar names in class, and the teacher – his 60-something-year-old self, was sitting behind his desk. Either he was too embarrassed to scold the kid or he was hard of hearing.

Also, this same kid would throw baseballs at my brother’s head, and each time, the coach would claim it was an accident. Sure, the first time. Not the other three.

It completely disgusts me that adults just turn the other cheek or refuse to realize what is really going on in front of them.  It happens that a few weeks ago, I saw a status on Facebook posted by a father:

“Here is how I feel about bullying… get tougher or hit the bully in the mouth with a small bat from Dodger’s stadium. There’s no reason to go killing yourself over it.”

How can parents, with kids of their own, be so coldhearted? How can you say that when your kid is the one being the bully? Have your son be the victim, and then make your ignorant comment.

So why am I sharing my bullying horror stories with you? In the hope that you will speak up the next time you come across someone being a bully or someone getting bullied.

Bullying is a much bigger issue than most people think. The third-leading cause of death among young people is suicide. The number is approximately 4,400 deaths a year. A study done in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people were related to bullying.

Bullying is a word that is taken too lightly. I hope that you will teach your younger brothers or sisters, and someday kids, to treat others with kindness and respect, and to speak up for those who can’t.

 

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3 Responses to A life of being bullied: Speaking up for those who can’t

  1. William S. says:

    Bullying doesn’t cause suicide, but I can understand why so many people would believe that, as it’s repeated by advocacy groups, schools, and politicians alike. The causes of suicide are much deeper, and includes psychotropic medications, hopelessness, no self-esteem, and feelings of rejection. According to JAMA, 95% of people who take their life have a diagnosable psychiatric illness. A person who is depressed, or displays warning signs of suicide, could no doubt end their life if they are bullied, but that isn’t the cause. Saying it is would be like saying bad marriages, pressure at work, financial troubles, bad grades, or a broken relationship are all causes of suicide. Suicide is an irrational act, and blaming bullying is a mental health issue cop out.

  2. Quinn R. says:

    What you should also realize is that most of the bullying comes from the bullies themselves being ashamed of how their lives are turning out and the fact that they’ll look for any sort of escape in which they can validate their existence in this world, even if it is to make another individual feel lower than they feel.

    Bullying has seemed to get more rampant over the years, but the kids that are bullied need to realize that they have a far better chance of making something of themselves when they grow up than those who do the bullying today. I already have.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Hi Valerie,

    Thanks for sharing. I realize it was a while ago, but I’m sorry that you had to go through that spell of bullying. The fact that they spent time “planning” it speaks volumes about their character.

    In response to Quinn R’s reply, I do think kids need a better foundation of confidence and support. And while it may be easy to say that they have a far better chance of making something of themselves, children aren’t always that optimistic, especially when they’re being attacked for simply existing. It’s difficult to put anything in perspective at that age.

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