Bullying is more prevalent than ever. Is it a new problem? Absolutely not, bullying has been around since the dawn of time. However, the advent of technology, mass communication, and social networking has brought bullying to the forefront. With a recent rash suicides and videotaped beatings, we need to understand the severity of bullying and what its consequences bring. Education through example is powerful, and my own experiences shed light on the harmful effects of bullying and why it needs to stop.
As a child, I experienced frequent bullying in grade school. Whether it was for my weight, clothing, or just about anything else you can think of, I was bullied. By the time middle school came around and people started to show off more, the torture hit its peak. At any given time during the school day, I was punched, kicked, spit on, or even thrown down the stairs because of how I looked. I was called every kind of derogatory name under the sun because I was overweight and what they called a “nerd”. By the end of the eighth grade, the beatings and verbal abuse had left me morbidly depressed. I kept it to myself which only made it worse. Eventually things changed thanks to a massive growth spurt, but my role would soon be reversed.
Once high school began, my new size was a plus. I was no longer bullied. To cure my bully caused depression, I now became one. However It didn’t take long to learn my lesson from the consequences of my actions and others. My target was a girl I had known in school for years who was always in my classes. When it was en vogue, she became Goth. Now just as had been done to me, I was showing off in front of everyone by making fun of her. I remember always asking why she had to be so weird and why she was a freak. I could tell she was hurt, but I was too lost in my own self-pity to care. One day I had not seen her around, then the school announcements came on and I heard her name mentioned. Then it was followed with “has committed suicide”. A part of me died instantly. While I may not have been the direct cause, I knew I had probably sped up the process, along with the other people who made fun of her. If her home life was perhaps bad, school made her life worse. We will never know. Regardless, there is a sense of responsibility in my actions for what she did. Her name is still etched in memory some 13 years later.
Even as an adult today, I still face some form of harassment. I have a shaved head and have multiple tattoos up and down my arms which lead random people to call me derogatory names. People don’t take the time get to know me to find out that I have some condition that causes my hair to fall out in patches which is why I shave it, or that I simply have a unique taste in artwork that I chose to display on my skin. The bottom line is that we need to accept. No matter what size, shape, color, or creed, we are all human. We have to stop bullying by educating people about its consequences. If we can drive home how damaging verbal and physical attacks can be, we can make a change. If more people knew their actions could lead to suicide, things might change. I know the effects from both sides the hard way. Coping with bully caused depression and living with the guilt of bullying is a daunting task. Take this story, share it, and hopefully help someone in the process. Bullying is not an epidemic, it’s a disease, and we can be the cure.