My Experience with Bullies

I’ve had an experience with bullies. It changed me. Thankfully, it didn’t destroy me. It actually turned me into a stronger person. I was a lucky one.

Bullies affect far too many children still, and as a community, we need to change this.

When I wrote The Muse, a lesbian romance novel that deals with the subject of bullying and how it affects us throughout our lifetime, I did so with the goal of bringing awareness to the issues that affect so many and to hopefully save people from having to deal with its hurtful consequences.

The best chance we have as a community to help stop bullies is by standing up to them as leaders, as change agents, as role models.

bulliesBullies Can Destroy Lives

I was bullied as a young girl, bullied right into a two year silence, literally. One girl controlled my power to speak by slapping me repeatedly every time I spoke. That bully of a girl never let me sit apart from her. Her glare, her firm slap if I moved the wrong way had to be obvious to my teacher who sat before me, right? I never felt so alone as I did in that year. Weakened by a bully, I sat victim for two long years too afraid to speak on my own behalf.

Then a hero came to my rescue. Although he didn’t attend my school, he befriended me in my neighborhood and taught me how to stand up for myself through example. No bullies messed with me when I couldn’t speak. They respected me because he respected me. He was a change agent at the age of seven. To this day, I doubt he knows the positive level of impact he had on my life.

He stood up against bullies for me.

That was the key. He communicated to me and to others that I was someone worthy.

As a community, how do we nurture such individuals to rise to the occasion and become these much needed change agents? How do we convince kids to be leaders against bullies? I don’t think we can expect to just sit idle and hope some of them take up flight and stand up for those weakened and battered down by bullies. I think it starts with communicating clearly and precisely with the youth that we need them to willingly stand up for those being pushed down. Their simple presence most often is all that is needed.

Students can help stop bullies if we, as a community, teach them 3 important things:

  • Encourage them to become agents of change by becoming mentors, advocates and leaders for their peers.
  • Encourage high school students to lead by example. High school students have a credibility that rings more true and strong to younger students.
  • Encourage them to become a safe place, to become a friend, to become that person who really cares about the feelings of another human being.

Wishing you all the best,

Suzie Carr, Novelist

P.S. I want to turn it over to you. This is such a critical topic and I’d love to hear your take on it. Please feel free to share an experience you or someone you care about has had with bullies.

 

13 replies
  1. Allan
    Allan says:

    I was bullied at a very young age and to this day, I bear the scars from it. There is no such thing as kids will be kids. Bullying needs to stop, plain and simple.

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      Hi Allan, I’m sorry to hear you were bullied, too. It is a painful thing to experience and sadly too many are still experiencing it. I agree, there is no place for statements like kids will be kids.

      Reply
  2. Alakshendra Tripathi
    Alakshendra Tripathi says:

    I think we need to make the kids get into the habit of original thinking and help them stand for what they believe in. Not all of them are inherently bad and if they just become brave enough to speak out they think is right, I think we will be done with this bully problem. So, 1. Encourage the original thinking in kids. 2. Make them brave enough to stand up for what they think.

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      I agree Alak. Encouraging original thinking is a must, and I believe this is the responsibility of all of us. We can’t rely solely on parents and teachers to encourage this. As friends, siblings, aunts, uncles, coaches, etc, we all need to make this happen.

      Reply
  3. Deone Higgs
    Deone Higgs says:

    I can relate to your message, Suzie. As a child, I was bullied continuously for many years because of my dark complexion and for my mother not being able to give me the “finer” things in life, such as name brand shoes and clothes. It started pretty early in elementary, and went on all the way through my eleventh grade year of high school. It was one of the reasons I never liked school and would end up never giving it my best efforts. Kids can be extremely cruel and out of fear of being the outsider themselves, they sense the weaker of their peers and making them the outsider instead. It was great that you were able to find a change agent.

    I agree with you, parents and other students have the power to stop bullying. If the parents teach children not to remain silent, by not only words, but their actions as well; bullying can become one of things that is shunned against being practice. The key point here though is parents not only talking a good against bullying, but also practicing what they teach. Because to be honest with you, I still know of a few bullies who have been gift wrapped to look as if they are adults. Bullies learn their behavior from somewhere, right. So who’s teaching the adults not to bully other adults, as their children stand by and take the behavior in to practice later?

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      Deone, thanks for sharing your personal story with bullying. I’m amazed at how many people have come forward through emails, tweets, messages since I posted this to say they’ve been bullied, too. I personally think the struggles have made us all stronger, more empathetic, more loving people. Would you agree?

      I love hearing stories of when a ‘popular’ kid/leader friends a person being bullied. This speaks volumes. That is one way many victims can be saved. The second is in helping the bullies to be empowered through positive acts versus negative acts. I don’t know what it will take to make that happen, but I think it offers great hope for both parties.

      I’ve been bullied and harassed many times over by adults just over the past few years when I started publishing my books and becoming active on social media sites. My cure is to block them. If I engage them, it just escalates.

      I don’t know the answer. I do have faith though that with enough of us leading by example, we might affect at least one life… and that is a step in the right direction.

      Reply
  4. Julie
    Julie says:

    Hi Suzie,

    Bullying is quite a problem in the school my kids go to. Unfortunately the school management don’t want to see the problem, the parents of the bullies don’t want to see it and the kids being bullied and their parents are at their wits end.

    I’ve recently found out that the bullies and major trouble makers within the school are the ‘rich kids’, parents give money, kids can stay – no consequences. Now, I’ve nothing against anyone having money, you worked for it, but, is this the way we’re raring this generation? You try to teach your kids morals & respect to all, but … one can’t really blame them when they snare a nasty look occasionally.

    It does need to be tackled, the how to, I don’t have the answer.

    Thanks Suzie
    Julie

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      Hi Julie!
      Thanks for your post. Bullying is such a problem in schools. I don’t think there is any one solid answer to this problem. It is one that needs to be tackled one case at a time… On one end, the victims need help, and on the other end, even the bullies do… most former bullies I’ve spoken with became bullies out of anger, neglect, and other psychological issues. So it’s widespread and the causes are so varied that it seems impossible to solve. I have faith that with enough people paying attention and standing up for what’s right, bullying will one day become less and less and more children (and adults) will triumph in the end because they either stood up for someone or someone stood up for them. Thanks, Julie!

      Reply
    • Sandi D
      Sandi D says:

      Julie I do agree with you . I was bullied in school a lot and most of it was from the kids who’s parents had money . The teachers of course did nothing because it was a small community and it was all a joke to them , they always said they was kidding .

      Reply
  5. Tony Trotter
    Tony Trotter says:

    I was the gay, poor, single parent, welfare kid who watched cartoons, read comics and. I was bullied for never having money, never having an interest in sports, not trying to lose my virginity. I wasn’t the social butterfly, I was introverted, quiet, stayed to myself and just survived… barely. While never physically bullied (thankfully), I was verbally, emotionally and mentally tortured.

    When I got into the real world, I found out that everything that made me different, made me special. I never changed who I was…. I wasn’t able to turn “this part off” or “that part” on. School seems like a hundred years when you’re there, but when it’s all said and done…. it really IS all done.

    I think it’s easy for the schools to just roll their eyes and say, “Kids will be kids,” but kids are mean… kids can emotionally crippling to other kids. There has to be a point where the schools realize that. It isn’t fun when you’re the kid with the bullseye on your back, everyday of your life, for just showing up. There has to be a comprehensive system where a kid can tell someone… and that someone has to stand up and say THIS IS NOT ALLOWED.

    I complained 1 time. ONLY ONCE. And was told, “We’ll take care of it.” They pulled the kid aside, in front of about 30 of my peers and said, “Tony said you’re being mean to him. You should quit.” That guy tormented me until the day we graduated. It’s sad that our schools and administration allow this to happen.

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      Gosh Tony, you are an inspiration. I LOVE this part…”When I got into the real world, I found out that everything that made me
      different, made me special. I never changed who I was….” This gave me chills. Thank you for sharing your story. I really hope school administrators wake up and serve our children better going forward. Every child deserves a safe environment.

      Reply
  6. Haughland
    Haughland says:

    I love the points you make in your article.
    I only have one qualm, I think that no matter where you go in life you’re going to have ‘bullies’.

    We need to start teaching the younger generations coping mechanisms in order to deal with the inevitable (as harsh as that sounds). ‘Bullies’ are everywhere from the schoolyard, to your siblings, the pushy customer at the store where you work, your boss who won’t give you a break, to your partner or spouse – sometimes people don’t even realize it.

    There are those who are genetically pre-disposed to things like depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. If at a young age we aren’t taught coping mechanisms a large number of kids, teens and adults will have to deal with low self esteem, self worth and even worse.

    I was pre-disposed for a number of mental illnesses that run in my family. I am currently 21 and still dealing with a near crippling depression and severe social & general anxiety. I can say right now I’m stable because of meds and I know what’s going on, I’ve had CBT and talk therapy. But when I was in grade school and tried to take my own life at the age of 12, some coping mechanisms would have been helpful. The bullies were still there – and unfortunately they’re not going anywhere.

    We need to prepare

    Reply
    • Suzie Carr
      Suzie Carr says:

      You bring up such an important point – we need to teach coping mechanisms. This is so true. We are going to face stress, obstacles, bullies, you name, it in life. We need to be better prepared to deal with those kinds of insults that will at one point or another land at our feet. This kind of stuff needs to be taught to children at a young age. Thank you for chiming in to this discussion. This may actually form a new blog post!

      Reply

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