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This story has been shared with us by a local teacher.
Have you ever had someone bully you, tease you, or purposefully aggravate you? Well I certainly have and I can remember it like it was yesterday. At the time I didn’t have the proper tools to manage the situation and the effects of my experience have taken a toll on my self-esteem. Although it was 25 years ago when I was in the fifth grade, I can still remember how bad it made me feel. If only I knew then what I know now and if only I had some good coping skills and proper social tools to navigate through the problem, I may have saved myself a lot of hurt and pain. It is important that we teach our children what to do when they are in a situation where they are being bullied because this type of mental abuse can leave lasting scars that affect all areas of one’s life, most importantly self-esteem.
I can remember so clearly walking up to school with sweaty palms and a stomach ache wondering if the teasing and harassment would happen again on that day. I can remember wishing I could just go home and cry. One girl in my class, the most popular one, had zeroed in on me and discovered right away that I was the perfect target. I was sensitive and had low self-esteem. One by one this bully turned every child in my fifth grade class against me. When I would sit down to eat my lunch at the lunch table the kids would get up and walk to another table leaving me alone. I would try another group of friends and the same thing would happen until I was eating my lunch in a bathroom stale. Well not really eating lunch at all, but just hiding from the embarrassment of what lunch time brought me. The children saw my reaction was sadness and anger and this only fueled the fire for more bullying. It only made it worse. They would play a game where they would pretend I didn't exist, as if I wasn’t talking or even in the room. I didn’t have the right tools to handle the problem and over time my hurt turned into anger and I almost even got into a fist- fight.
My hope for children going through this same situation is that they have someone they can trust who will help them. They need to be educated about how to handle situations where they feel they are being bullied. Understanding why a bully behaves the way they do can be very helpful to easing the victims pain. Knowing how to defuse a conflict situation and when is a good time to ask for help are things that children need to know. The most important thing kids need to realize in a situation like this is that they are not alone. There are other children going through the same situation and dealing with the same struggles. Coming together to support each other and learn how to address the issue can be very healing. We also need to teach our kids how to be good problem solvers because the fact is, in life, there will always be problems and we need to begin to learn at a young age how to solve whatever problem is thrown at us. Good problem solving skills are important for us to learn and use our whole life through.
The teacher shared with us that when the bullying happened to her, she didn’t know what to do so she blamed myself, thinking she was weird or thinking she wasn’t worthy of having friends. She didn’t have the necessary knowledge or support to understand the problem or be a part of fixing it. I hope that if a child is being bullied in school that they understand that kids only bully other kids when they feel sad about something about themselves and it is much easier for the bully to find weakness in someone else so they don’t have to look at their own weakness. I hope they go to their parent or their teacher and ask for help with the problem, that they get guidance about how to handle the situation, and that they discover through their support that they are not alone.