Stick and Stones May Break My Bones and Names Sure Will Hurt Me

It’s No Name Calling Week.  Words have a lot more power than many people realize.  One negative comment can ruin a person’s entire day.  Repetitive bullying can scar a person for years, and has led to suicide in the victim in many unfortunate cases.
I was bullied as a kid, and it hurt.  Kids were mean, and made rude comments about my situation in life, and it was hurtful.  It was then that I started having severe panic attacks.  Those kids and their unkind words broke me down in ways that my mothers illness and death had been unable to do.  Their actions left me hiding in school bathrooms, or under a railroad trestle, so that no one would see me cry, so that no one would see how deep my pain ran.
I can look back now and realize that that helped me grow as a person.  It helped make transitions in my life easier.  Having to leave that behind was one of the most positive things in my childhood.
I learned from all the negativity.  I grew from it.  I learned how much words can hurt.  I learned how  to think before speaking.  I knew the pain that others felt.  I learned how to be understanding, and not to judge.
I made long-lasting friendships with people who weren’t mean to me, who were kind and were there for me when I needed them.
I have also learned forgiveness.

As a parent, bullying is something that we always hope to shield our children from.  Never in a million years would I want my children to suffer as I suffered.  I would never want them to feel so completely alone and helpless.
Unfortunately, my daughter was the victim of bullying.  When she was in second grade, a group of boys continuously tormented her, daily.  They poked her, leaving bruises on her back.  They stole her lunch daily and threw it around.  I went to the school so many times, but got nowhere.  My daughter actually got detention for supplying the food that was in these daily “food fights”.
Incidentally, I found out that the “leader” of the school is a bully himself and was arrested on child abuse charges, so I shouldn’t really be surprised by his lack of concern for my daughter.
We switched schools where she did really well and thrived.
Unfortunately, last year she started having problems with one girl.  This one girl rallied a lot of the other girls against my daughter, making the last couple months of school miserable for her.
There were meetings with the principal, and the girls always promised to be nice and they promised they’d be friends.  They’d be nice for a day or two, getting my daughter’s hopes up, only to crush them all over again when the “lead girl” decided it was too hard for her to be nice.
I sat with my daughter day after day, my heart aching for her.  She asked about homeschooling, she asked about switching schools again.
We didn’t want to do that because she was in a good school, she just had a really bad classmate.  But all it takes is one bad person to make another person miserable.  Unfortunately, this one bad person had already brought so much unhappiness to my daughter.
The final straw came within the last couple days of school when the girl snapped an embarrassing picture of my daughter with her cell phone.  It was traumatizing for my daughter.  I’ll be honest and say that at graduation, had I not had the baby in the Ergo, the mama bear in me would have been very tempted to take off my flip flop and throw it in the girl’s direction.
I know that switching schools isn’t always practical, or even possible for everyone.  It was an option for our daughter.  We didn’t want her to feel like running away from the problem was the answer, so it wasn’t a decision that we jumped into.  We thought long and hard for most of the summer, weighing the pros and cons of both schools.  We realized that because the school we were looking at is bigger, it also offered her a lot more opportunities.  There are clubs for every interest, so she’s been able to make friends with a wide variety of different kids.
She’s in a variety of clubs that she’s enjoying.  She’s in Leadership club to help set a good example to other students, and quite recently she joined a club to help combat bullies.
My hope is that she will learn from her experiences and they will strengthen her.  I hope that she will learn to stand up for herself and chose friends who will respect her.

Talk with your kids about bullying.  Chances are they’re seen it, even if they’re not directly involved.  Teach your kids the power of words, they can hurt or they can heal.  Make a choice, the right choice.

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