Wednesday, October 17, 2012

When Is It Enough?

One of the many perks of Facebook is you are exposed to different stories that you might normally miss.  As a parent this is handy for recalls, alerts, and local news stories I would normally miss because I don't have the time (or interest) to watch the news.  And let's face it, I check Facebook more often than I do my home news page.

One story that caught my eye was a news anchor's response to an email she received from a viewer. 


I know some people don't agree with what she said but I think she handled it beautifully.  It's good to see someone in the public eye bring it up and handle herself with such pose.

Not even a week after this story was posted I saw people talking about Amanda Todd, saying Rest in Peace and calling for action. 

We all see status updates on people dying every now and again, but in this case friends of mine who didn't know each other were posting about it so I googled it. 

I wasn't prepared for what I found.



Her story is heart breaking in so many different ways.  Not only was she bullied so horribly, but her tormentors followed her from school to school.  And if that wasn't enough, read through the comments on her video you will find horrible comments about her.  Even after it was confirmed she killed herself people commented on how she deserved to be bullied, good riddance, the world is a better place because she's gone, and other horrible things.

Sick does not even begin to describe how I feel. 

I didn't know her.  I didn't see this video before her situation made Facebook news.  I don't know anyone affected, personally, by her story.

But I know what it's like to be bullied.  I know what it's like to be afraid every time you leave your house.  I know what it's like to want to run, hide, and give up.


I am so thankful that the Internet was not around when I was a kid.  My bullies, although creative in their tactics, had to torment me in person.  There were no emails, Facebook posts, tweets, texts, or anything else like that.  I'm sure there were notes passed and phone calls made, but nothing that could go any further than word of mouth. 

And I will say this about the "cool kids" who spend their early school years picking on me, they were creative.  It wasn't just being picked on and teased, it was bullying in true form. 

They would befriend me after a "falling out" with their group or turn any friends I had made against me, after getting information from me they could use later, and they always did. 

I was invited by a "friend" to hang out in our complex (not only did I go to school with my bullies for 7 years but most of them lived in the same complex as me).  When I went out to meet her, she egged me. 

It got to the point where walking to and from school was full of dread.  Taking the garbage out after dark was terrifying.  Literally running to the corner store and back if I was sent for something.

Once my sister, who was 2 years younger than me, more than a foot shorter, and much cooler than I was, had to come to my rescue because a group of kids cornered me at the entrance to our building as I was coming in from throwing out a bag of garbage.  If my sister wasn't there I know I would have made it home bruised, bloody, and possible with a few broken bones.

I could write for quite awhile about all the ways my elementary school years were horrible.  Sadly, they were nothing compared to my one year in middle school, where they elected a new leader and she was relentless in her attack on me. 

My lowest point was crying, begging, and pleading with my mom to not send me to school on April 1st.  There had been whisperings about what they had planned for me as an April Fools "Prank" and I had never been more afraid to face them.  Thankfully nothing came of the whisperings, more so since I had to go to school.

As bad as my 8th grade of school was it was the start of a good turning point.  I made some real friends and gained a little bit of confidence. 

I also had a gym teacher notice something was going on during a fairly regular wrestling game, where everyone played, once you were pinned (both shoulders on the mat) you were out, the last one wins.  Being in gym with most of my bullies I was a target for all of them.  It was not uncommon for me to be fighting off 5 or more girls, and I had to fight to not get pinned because once they had me down I was hit, punched, had my hair pulled, sat on, anything and everything they could think of before the teacher told them to move on. 

After a few months he pulled me aside after class and asked about it.  Not wanting any more attention drawn to me I lied and said it was fine.  It wasn't and he didn't believe me.  After a few meetings with the school counsellor it was decided that something had to be done.  They contacted the high school we were all moving on to in the fall and arranged for none of them to be in any of my classes. 

After 7 years of having to see them every day, at school and at home, I was going to get some distance from them. 

This allowed me to make more friends and gain even more confidence and self esteem, which I needed for my final show down with my bullies a few months after high school started.  For the first time I stood up for myself, which put an end to the years of bullying. 

It's been 13 years since the bullying stopped.  I can say I've been able to move on past it and grow from it.  Although it has affected me in other ways.  I am a home body, if given the choice between going out and staying home, I'll stay in 98% of the time.  I am shy and hesitant to meet new people.  I'm an introvert.  I am not confident in new situations. 

None of this is as bad as it have been be with my experience. 

I wish I could say kids who are bullied today will be able to say the same thing in their adult lives.  The Internet changes everything.

In my day (you said it was an old man voice, didn't you?} it was done to you, infront of you or at least near you.  You knew who your bullies were.  Today, it can be anonymous; an email address, a Facebook page, a phone number.  Someone can start a rumour on-line and have it go viral.  We all know the Internet is forever.

This is what makes my heart break so much more for Amanda Todd's family.  Her pictures are still out there; the douche who set up the Facebook page can still send it to people. 

I can understand people's frustration about her poor choice to flash some random guy on the web, and hook up with a guy she knows was seeing someone else.  But I can also understand why she would make those decisions. 

It's the same reason I kept making "friends" with people who previously picked on me.  You revert in so much that you become desperate to make friends, be accepted, have anyone care for you.  Add in hormones and it's a recipe for disaster. 

15 years ago we received our first real major news story about bullying with Reena Virk.  Since then we've seen Columbine and other school shootings and suicide story after suicide story. 

What is it going to take?

It's mind boggling that in this day and age there's still so much prejudice against those who are different, in any way. 

It's 2012! 

Aren't we able to move past the colour of someone's skin? 

Do we really care about someone's sexual preference? 

Why can't we see the person without seeing their weight or shape? 

How does someone's wardrobe affect who they are as a person? 

Can't we see that a disability doesn't make them any less of a person?

Why can't we teach our children to put a stop to it? 

Why do we continue to stay silent about it?

If we can teach our children to accept their peers, they don't have to agree with their decisions but still respect them for who they are, and not ingnore bullying anymore then we will see the change that needs to happen. 


12 comments:

  1. You almost made me cry! What an insight to your past..thank you for sharing.xo
    Dana Imbery

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    Replies
    1. As much as I wish it wasn't it has played a part in who I am today

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  2. I had no idea what you went through! Thank you for sharing your story and I hope it inspires people to change and show and accept the good in people.

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  3. ohhhhh I am SO sorry you had all those horrible things happen to you! That should never happen to ANYONE! Thanks for sharing your story so more people can become aware of the consequences of bullying.. *HUGS!

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    Replies
    1. The key is teaching our children. If we can teach them it's not okay then maybe it will change

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  4. I am so sorry for what you went through. And you are so brave for sharing it with us. This is something no one should have to go through and it just makes me sick. I just watched this video you posted of Amanda Todd and cried my eyes out. Excuse my language, but this just PISSES ME OFF!!! I'm sorry, but it just does.

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    Replies
    1. It's insane! Yet, I look at her and she would have been a kid I was afraid of in school because she was pretty, thus making her cool.

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  5. Bullying these days frightens me. It was never an easy thing to deal with, but the internet has made it SO easy for it to continue.

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    Replies
    1. It's going to be a tough road for the next generation.

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    Sarah

    ReplyDelete