Monday, October 29, 2012

Bullying: My Pledge To The World

Sarah: Circa 2000
When I was in middle and high school, I was bullied relentlessly. I was the perfect target; I was overweight, I wore glasses, I had braces, I was poor and I was a nerd.
I've heard it all....."fatty, fatty two by four, can't fit through the kitchen door", etc, etc. No, it wasn't fun times at all. I hated high school, but it was an escape from home, where life wasn't much better (sorry, mom...but it wasn't). Often times, you found me hiding in the library, reading a book. At home, you found me locked in my bedroom, escaping in to the world of Dawson's Creek or Friends.
A scar from one of my cutting sessions.
How did I deal with the pain? I wrote horrible poetry and I started cutting myself. I often thought of suicide but, honestly, was too chicken to follow through, so cutting myself seemed to be the next best thing. This continued into adulthood, but that's another story for another day.
When my kids started school, I was terrified that they'd have to go through the same thing I went through or that, worse, THEY'D be bullies themselves. I tried to teach them acceptance and, so far, I think I've done a pretty good job. They are very understanding that people are different and that they shouldn't pick on them or be mean. Anastasia has a little trouble with this with Sebastian. She can be mean to him and pick on him, but we are trying to break her of that habit.
One thing I teach my kids is that words can hurt.
A lot.
And that picking on people and bullying is so far from cool, it's not even funny. It doesn't make you cool, or rad, or bad ass. It makes you look weak, in my opinion. It makes me feel sorry for all parties, because I truly believe that a lot of bullies are doing it for reasons other than just being mean. I think there is something going on in their home life that is making them so miserable, they are trying to get company.
More and more, you are hearing about young people committing suicide over being bullied. Off the top of my head, I can think of two; Amanda Todd and Felicia Garcia. Both girls committed suicide after being tormented and bullied, in person and on social websites like Facebook and Twitter. Both girls torment and bullying stemmed from sexual things. They were called names, treated horribly, Felicia's sexual act was filmed, unbeknownst to her.
Kids have so many outlets at their disposal these days, outlets that enable them to be even more cruel than necessary. Young kids have Facebooks..hell, MY kids have them! Parents are busy and aren't as proactive in their kids lives. Have you seen the movie "Cyberbully"? I think it's a must watch with your kids.
So, after reading these stories, I decided to take a stand and make a pledge. My pledge is to teach my kids against bullying and to stand up for people they see being bullied. And I, myself, won't be a bully either. I wish bullying would end, but I don't see how when many adults are just as cruel (take the website Cafemom for example.....you'll see plenty of grown women purposely being mean to others.).  The only thing I can do, as one person and a parent, is teach my kids that bullying is NOT okay.
Bullying is stopping here. I'll not tolerate it and I'll not accept it. I wish I could come up with ideas to get this message into schools, ways to help students learn acceptance.
Here is where you can all step in.
Pledge to do your part to teach your kids, or ANY kid for that matter, that bullying is NOT okay. It's simply not.
We may not be able to do much, but if it reaches just one person, then I call it a success!
~Sarah

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