Thursday, November 3, 2011

Bullies...and Bullying

A high school friend posted a powerful status on her Facebook page and it really hit home.  I copied and pasted it to my status.  Here it is:

A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying & gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take out a piece of paper & told them to crumple it up, stomp on it & really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out & look at how scarred & dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now, even though they said they......were sorry & tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. That those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That's what happens when a child bully’s another child, they may say they’re sorry, but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home.

Bullying, no matter when it happens in life, no matter how long it lasts, and no matter whether the bully says 'sorry' or not, affects the bullied for life.  It's true.  I know from experience.

I was bullied for years, at church, of all places.  I was little and shy and my bully knew just what buttons to push.  And no adult bothered to help.  Can you even imagine?  In church.  It screwed up my self-esteem for years, and I can still see the effects: the need for approval, the anxiety meeting new people, wondering why in the world someone would be interested in what I have to say.  Yep, those scars last a lifetime.

Years later, my bully apologized to me at our 20th class reunion.  I couldn't believe it, and I felt a weight leave my shoulders, a weight I didn't even realize was still there.  I was finally able to put it behind me.  Will I carry the scars with me?  Definitely.  Can I move past it?  Yes.  And it has made me more sensitive to the bullying I see around me.  Including someone I work with.

Be sensitive to the people around you, young and old, who deal with bullies.  Bullies are NEVER in the right.  The kid or the adult who is being bullied could use your support.  If someone would have just recognized what was happening to me and supported me, it would have made a world of difference.  

Be that person for your friend or family member who is being bullied.  Listen to them.  Believe them.  And let them know you love them.