Monday, October 18, 2010

Bullying 101

No%20Bullying%20circle Bullying just stinks.  With all the latest news about bullying lately it made me remember when I was harassed in school.  It was not first memory was the 2nd grade and it didn't end until I finished high school.  It wasn't constant but there are still painful memories.  I would be very surprised if all of us have not experienced some sort of bullying at one time or another.
My worst experience of bullying was my 6th grade year - it was by far the worse school year of my life. 
In Odessa the schools are set up K-6 elementary, 7-9 junior high, and 10-12 high school. From Kindergarten until 5th grade my Mother would always get a transfer from the school district for me to attend Pease Elementary...which was the closet elementary school to our home instead of allowing me to ride the bus to Lamar....which was way across the city.  This all changed my during my 5th grade year when the school district voted for no more transfers.  My 6th grade year would be at a different school.  I don't remember being too upset about this.  Most of  friends were going to be going to different schools also and there was nothing my parents could do.
My parents decided to send me to a private school instead of attending Lamar.  At that time Lamar had became a "rough" school with a tarnished reputation. 
So I started my 6th grade year at a private school...and it was awful.  All of the students were kids that had been together since kindergarten and they were all from wealthy families.  It was very uncomfortable.  Plus the curriculum was far below what I was receiving in the public school system.  I remember being astonished that our lesson was on the food pyramid and the basic food groups.  I remember learning that in 2nd grade and it was new to all of these 6th grade students.  My Mom was not impressed either and decided to allow me to attend Lamar. 
I was excited at first to attend Lamar - I got to ride the school bus for the first time.  But....that quickly changed because I was labeled the "rich" kid (which I wasn't) and I was one of only a few Caucasians in the school. 
It was a strange environment at Lamar...there were some non-english speaking classmates that were 14 & 15 years old and there were 2 girls that had babies.   I tried my best to fit in...but my homework & art projects were stolen all the time, I ate my lunch alone, and it was miserable.  The only thing that made it bearable were my teachers...I had 3 of them and they would let me have lunch with them from time to time or grade papers during recess time.
One Friday afternoon as I was walking to the school bus I was listening to my jam box.  (Remember those?!?!)  The school bully...or at least the one that always seemed to pick on me was Chris.  On that afternoon Chris came up to me and told me to "turn that honky music off".  I decided enough was enough and I stopped and said "NO!"...I had a right to have that music and my jam was a special reward on Friday's.  He told me one more time "turn that HONKY music off!" and once again I said "NO!"  About that time he swung his Dallas Cowboy jacket at my head and underneath it was a steel baseball bat. 
Chris hit me 1/2 inch above my temple on the right side of my head.  I immediately collapsed to the ground and there were no teachers around.  My school bus driver (Pat) witnessed the entire event and rushed me on the bus.  I remember her calling someone on her radio as she quickly drove me home first.  She actually got me off the bus and told my Mom everything that happened.  My Mom and brother rushed me to the emergency room since my head was swollen and hurting really bad.  I remember the doctor saying if it was just a little lower it could have killed her instantly.  My family was livid to say the least .
When Monday rolled around I was ready to forget the entire incident and not mention it but there was no way my parents could let this go.  My Mom first went to the school district and then to the principle's office.  I was in class as this was happening...and rumblings were starting to go around class when all the teacher were called to the front office.   (Oh...I think I forgot to mention that all the students loved Chris)  About ten minutes after the teachers were called out....I was called out. 
The teachers were very supportive of me and I just wanted to die.  This was only going to make things worse for me.  Then....the unthinkable...the teachers & principles called Chris to the hallway for the meeting.  After some denying he finally admitted he hit me in the head and I will never forget my math teacher Mr. Warren going crazy and yelling in his face that he could have killed me.  Chris was immediately suspended for a week and it became an official school district rule that students could NO longer bring any sort of baseball bats on school campus.
I wish I could say things got better for me that year but unfortunately the school year got worse because it was my fault that I got Chris kicked out of school.   At the end of the school year my homeroom teacher told my Mom she was so glad the year was over...."Tina didn't belong here".
I survived.  It was tough but I survived. 
Our youth today need to understand that suicide is final....there are no reset buttons to start again.  High school...junior high....grade school...or even college are only small parts of our life.  Once you graduate you never have to see or deal with these people again.
When I was in school people would always tell me "this is the best time of your life". That comment would scare me to death....I would think to myself...if this was the best part what was adult life going to be like??
I am happy to say those people were wrong. 
Right now....where I am at....who I am...and my life - is the BEST time of my life.


Janine Deckard said...

How traumatic! I am so sad that this happened to you. I'm glad that you are a stronger person because of it. Azariah has dealt with bullying before. As a parent it is a terrible feeling. Avi wants to take a head on approach to it, but in public school, Zero Tolerance means the victim and the perpetrator both get punished for the fight. I find it appalling that we can't find better ways of dealing with this. It starts at home, for sure. I've only had a couple stories where I was bullied, but nothing so serious as what you went through. How terrible. I sure love you and appreciate that you shared this story. I plan on reading it to the kids when I have some time with them. Thank you!

Linda said...

I agree. I hate bullying too. I had several instances during my school years too, but never said a word about it. I guess that's why bullies prevail, the person being bullied usually just keeps quite hoping it will all stop and go away. Unfortunately the bullying now days never stops. At least when I got home it was over for the day because they didn't even call for fear of being found our, but now kids are bullied 24 hours a day via texting, emails, Facebook, My Space and any other way they can think of. I agree with you Tina, school years were not the best years of my life either. I couldn't wait to get out of there and NEVER look back.

Darla said...

Tina, how horrible for you! I'm sorry. Even reading about it all these years later makes me sad for you. Mad too.

Janine, one of the things I worry most about for my grandkids is being bullied. I can't stand the way people want to hurt others. I just don't understand that kind of thinking.

Fearing how much Sara could change if someone hurts her is one of the biggest fears I had about her starting to school. I know we can't live in a cave, but untill laws are changed, teachers and school personnell take strong action, and parents begin being parents and teaching their kids that it is not ok, all children are at risk.

I have seen programs on tv about this, and it is a horrible problem across the country. Bullys grow up and turn into adult criminals in many cases.

May G-d protect our children and help them to avoid this kind of treatment by fellow students!