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Bullying Month Ended But Our Resolve To Fight It Shouldn't Stop

By Beverly Stern
Feb. 28, 2012

Bullying is very significant to me. Even though I am 65 years old now, my experience being bullied in elementary school changed my childhood and adolescent years and paved the way for my anxiety disorder in my twenties and thirties. Looking back, I see that I was ripe to be picked by a bully. I was a slight, introverted child with many insecurities and fears. The girl who selected me was a rough and tough tom boy type. Since I didn’t know how to deal with her taunts and threats, I was “sick” many days and absent from school. My parents never knew why.

There was also another slight, shy girl in the class. Even though I liked Janice, I was so hoping that Sharon would decide to ruin her days instead of mine. I thought long and hard about how to get Sharon to be my friend and how to turn her attention, albeit negative to poor Janice. I actually felt so sorry for Janice, but I knew no other way. I fed Sharon with false compliments, invited her to my birthday party and made her my good buddy. Soon enough, she turned her attention to Janice solely and I just stood back and watched.

It was totally against my personality to allow Janice to be bullied so I tried to be her friend and help her rise up against the offender. I had so much anxiety trying to juggle my real empathetic feelings and my desire to be free of Sharon. As my childhood years went on, I became everyone’s protector and “mother.” Friends who were “underdogs” were my specialty. I found some younger friends that I could mother. I fixed their hair, told them how to dress and did homework for them. I had these types of friends all the way through junior and senior high.

I wanted to be everyone’s protector and counselor. The latter role seemed so natural for me and set the way for future educational interests. However, the control I had over my friends seemed like a daunting task. I never shared my concerns or feelings with anyone. When my life took turns that proved that I really had little control over anyone and anything, I became depressed. My negative, cognitive thoughts brought me years of agoraphobia and panic disorder.

When I think about technology today, particularly Facebook, I shudder to think what my early years could have been. That’s why my heart goes out to kids that not only have to deal with bullies in person, but also have to cope with taunting on the internet. It’s seems unimaginable to me that young folks being bullied have no place to seek refuge and resolution. We have failed miserably as a society in this area.

To think that young people who are bullied resort to suicide is an extremely painful reality. Likewise is news that a young person who has been bullied has killed his perpetrator as has happened many times. How many kids that find bullying easy come from homes where they are bullied by parents or siblings? Do we have to teach our children how to cope with bullying on their own—even when some we know that they are not strong enough to handle the brutality?

Bullying is a crime in some states and it should be a crime in every state. Teachers should teach classes on bullying after getting proper training themselves. They should also watch for kids being bullied and those that are bullies. There should be mental help for both. We owe it to kids and adolescents to help them deal with this epidemic. And, repeat offenders should be removed from school. We can’t let those that bully others continue their exploitations. We need to remember that a young person that bullies will grow up to be an adult bully who could end up being your boss! And those fragile souls who are bullied, as I was, could grow up with the pain and confusion that I had to grow up with.

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About the author: Beverly Stern has a M.S. degree in Counseling from Johns Hopkins University. She writes a blog at http://www.menopauseandmarrige.blogspot.com and welcomes your participation and comments. 

Email: bstern101@yahoo.com


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