The memory is fuzzy, but it’s definitely there. These are moments that cannot be erased, despite the time that has passed in between. I was sitting on the floor, surrounded by different hats and scarves from the dress up box, as I played with my fellow female kindergartners. There was a girl, popular even at a young age, that was taking charge. I remember wanting to play a princess. I remember her saying that I couldn’t. I remember the reason being that I was “too fat.” She was going to be the princess. It made the most sense to her because she was skinny. She fit the bill, not me.
I remember, in elementary school, being constantly harassed by this one boy. He was a soccer player who enjoyed seeing me cry. I don’t remember all of the insults that he hurled at me, but “chunka-hunka” is as clear as day. It was yelled across the courtyard, in front of everyone. I was told by my teacher, as I was blubbering the afternoon away, that I was “too sensitive.” My early teen years featured issues with eating, periods of starvation and extreme weight loss. That same soccer player asked me out at the tail end of an unhealthy, 30lb weight loss. I thoroughly enjoyed saying no. A fleeting moment of victory that would turn to confusion and back to unhappiness in the years to come. I wasn’t healthy, physically or emotionally, I just wasn’t fat for a bit.
This is just one tale of bullying, and a rather tame one at that. Some kids endure a regular heap of verbal and or physical abuse, simply for being different. Even looking back, I see it as a normal part of being a teenager. Everyone deals with this, right? Aside from a select few that land a seat at the “popular” table, your teen years are supposed to be as unbearable as atomic wedgies and severe acne. Right?
It shouldn’t be “part of growing up.” This is something that can be stopped. October is National Anti-Bullying Month, and our friends at CharitySub are showcasing three wonderful organizations that are working tirelessly to put an end to bullying. Your donation can help turn this dream into a reality. Just $5 could go a long way towards creating a safer, and more positive learning environment for kids during the most vulnerable time in their lives.
It also seems like observers hold all the cards. I mean, how much weight does a bully’s words or actions have without bystanders? I feel worse about the moments in which I saw someone being bullied and did nothing (fearing that the negative attention would shift to me) than in the moments where I was the one being bullied. There’s nothing courageous about being a follower. Research has shown that as the number of bystanders increases, the likelihood that any one bystander will intervene decreases, as an individual’s sense of responsibility is spread across the crowd. Since most bullying takes place when an adult isn’t around, the idea is to educate children on how to stand up to bullying. When one person speaks up, their positive behavior rubs off on other bystanders as well, ultimately changing the group’s silent acceptance of the bullying.
Here are CharitySub’s 3 chosen organizations for Anti-Bullying Month:
Angels & Doves: Angels & Doves works to end bullying in schools by educating teachers and students how to identify and handle bullying. Their unique programming provides students with an array of options to end bullying in their school.
NSCC: The National School Climate Center (NSCC) creates programs and initiatives that make schools safer by preventing bullying, harassment and teasing. Their BullyBust campaign engages the entire school community from teachers and administrators to students, to stand up against bullying.
SAVE: National Save is on a mission to reduce the potential of violence and bullying in our schools and communities by engaging students in prevention efforts. A national program with chapters in elementary, middle, high schools as well as in colleges and community centers that work locally to address youth violence and safety by engaging with and educating students.
For all the victims of bullying; past, present and future, please help. Please donate today.
Image via StopIRCBullying