This upsets me for several reasons, the first being that I am human and I don’t think it is right for anyone to be treated badly. Another reason is that I was bullied as a child. It was an experience that has stayed with me and still bothers me when I think about it.
There were actually several instances of bullying in my life. The first occurred when I was in the 5th grade. The perpetrator was not who you might think: It was my teacher.
I had just started at a new school after my parent’s separation and was having problems adjusting. I cried a lot, called my mom to come and get me early from school, and was just sad. Very very sad. After a few months of this my homeroom teacher started getting annoyed with me I suppose. I was 10.
One day I realized that I needed to talk to someone. I approached my teacher to ask if I could speak to the guidance counselor. I was stunned when she said “No.” You see, by this time I had a reputation as a trouble maker.
I had spent every other lunch hour in the office answering the school phones and taking messages. One day I left a note on the principal’s desk about the gym teacher. I had seen him badly hurt or humiliate a couple of kids in my class and no one was doing anything about it. The note said something like, “Mr. Asshole is hurting the kids. Can you please do something?”
I was branded as a snitch and told by my principal and homeroom teacher to mind my own business.
Seeing as my note-on-the-desk routine worked so well the first time, I thought I would try it with the guidance counselor. One lunch hour, heart in my throat, I left a note on her desk that said, “I need help. I need to talk to someone. Can I talk to you? Please don’t tell my teacher.”
The next day the guidance counselor came to the door of my classroom and asked for me. My teacher glared down at me and grudgingly let me go with her. The rest of the school year was a nightmare. My teacher was mean and dismissive. She rolled her eyes and made a big production out of it when I went to talk to the counselor, whom I had decided I couldn’t trust and wouldn’t really talk to anyways.
This teacher was far worse a bully then the 4 bitches who beat me up in a locker room in Grade 9, sending me to the hospital for x-rays on my neck, all for the transgression of stealing another girl’s best friend and being tall with blonde hair. This teacher looked into the big sad brown eyes of a little girl who was asking for help and said “No.” She made me feel that asking for help was weak and it took me a long time to get over it and confide in a counselor. She was supposed to be there to educate me and instead she broke me down and made me feel bad about myself. She was a bully.
My experiences with bullying have taught me a few things about life:
1. Adults are not always right. Just because an adult is in a position of authority and respect, that respect is not automatic and their authority can be challenged.I will make sure my children know this.
2. You need good friends. I surround myself with fantastic friends. Friends that I know would stand up for me if I was surrounded by a gang of girls in a locker room and not look the other way. Friends who would never say mean things about me behind my back or jump into the fight and knee me in the nose. Friends who will listen without offering judgement or think I am weak for asking for help.
3. Being a good person isn’t easy. I tried to do the right thing for myself and for others, and although it didn’t really get me anywhere I feel good about my choices and look back proudly on that time. Even though it was sad I can see where my strength started coming out.
I also learned some things about myself:
1. I am much stronger than I realize sometimes. I asked for help and I was only a child. A shy child. A quiet child.
2. I am heart-breakingly empathic. Even though I needed help myself, I asked for it for others. I always have and I always will.
3. Don’t mess with me. I re-encountered that principal from my elementary school at my junior high. He had been demoted to the vice-principal of my section of the school. I had a run-in with him over skipping classes. I was caught, done, mother called, sitting in an chair in his office. He looked at me and said:
-You don’t look very upset.
-What do you want me to do, cry?
-No. I don’t want you to cry.
-Then leave me alone.
I was waiting cry. I wasn’t about to give this bastard one more tear or show him that I cared about the power he had over me. Because I knew it didn’t matter. That he was a sham of a educator. When he called my mother to tell her I had been caught skipping class he proceeded to tell her she wasn’t doing a very good job raising me. She told him to Fuck Off, came to pick me up, and took my for ice cream.
My mom is awesome. Thanks Mom.
Bullying is never okay. I hope these parents see that protesting a policy that protects children from bullying is tantamount to inviting and approving of bullying itself.