I was working at the school where I went to kindergarten today. It is funny how so much has changed, and so much is the same! As I was walking around outside, I saw that the same treed lot is still across the street from the school. When I was 5 years old, it seemed like an entire forest! Now, I see it is just a small city lot.
But, this treed lot was so much more to me back then. It was a place to hide from the older kids who bullied me every day on the way home from school.
I don’t know why they chose me to pick on me – looking back and talking to others, I think that they picked on a lot of kids, but of course I didn’t know this at the time. I guess I was a handy target as I walked home the same way that they did. At first, they seemed nice and I thought maybe they were my friends. I was very confused when they would tease me, push me down, and pull me up by my bag strap only to push me down again. I didn’t understand this at all! I wondered what was wrong with me and it took me a long time before I told my parents about any of it. My mom started walking to the school to meet me every day to walk home with me. I don’t think anything was ever done to the bullies and I bet they continued bullying other kids. While I don’t think bullying was accepted back then, I think it was seen as a part of life and not something you could do a whole lot about.
Is Bullying Different Today?
Things are so different today. People speak up about bullying more and we are teaching our kids that it is not ok and to talk to a trusted adult if they are being bullied. We have bullying awareness campaigns and the schools play an active role in bullying prevention.
However, bullying still happens. At least when I was home, I knew I was safe from the bullies; this is not always the case for kids today. With the Internet and social media, our kids are exposed to bullying in different forms. If they are being bullied, they often cannot get away from it. It follows them into their homes through their computers, phones, or other electronics.
Get Involved and Stop Bullying
People have asked me why I am so involved in our anti-bullying campaign here. I guess it is my hope that no child will feel they have to hide from the bullies and that they will see that they are not alone. And if we can help the kids with bullying, maybe those bullies won’t grow up to be bullies, because bullying is not just a problem in our schools, but in our workplaces as well. We encourage you all to wear pink on Pink T-Shirt Day to help bring awareness to the issue of bullying and give support to those who have found themselves the victim of bullying — now, or at any time in their lives. Remember the message all year, and if you see someone being bullied, speak up.
I, and my 5-year-old self, thank you.