Patty’s Ponderings-Surviving Bullying
Bullying has been around forever and most likely will continue until the end of time. Thankfully in recent years there has been more of a focus on this destructive behavior.
Just this week the topic gained laser focus because of the Rebecca Ann Sedwick case.
Rebecca was a lovely, bright-eyed, typical 12-year-old, who killed herself last month after a year of being bullied by as many as fifteen girls. Some of them threatened to physically assault her, many of them bullied her online with comments like, “drink bleach and die!” or “you haven’t killed yourself yet, go jump off a building”.
On September 9th, Rebecca climbed a tower at an abandoned concrete plant and leapt to her death.
This week Florida police arrested a 14 year old girl who admitted online over the weekend that she indeed had bullied Rebecca and didn’t care that she killed herself. Also arrested was Rebecca’s 12-year-old former best friend who also participated in the bullying. Authorities are also contemplating filing charges against the bullies’ parents, who claim their children are innocent.
I will admit I have a special understanding of the effects of bullying. For most of my childhood, I was the fat, ugly girl with curly hair and freckles. I was always picked last for every team sport. Phys-ed was a living nightmare no matter how hard I tried and punching, kicking, poking and hair-pulling were daily events. The worst part, believe it or not, was the verbal abuse, which went well beyond simple name-calling. When I was growing up, obese kids were anomalies, now it’s an epidemic. Who knew? I was ahead of my time!
I survived by escaping into my imagination and because I was also a funny, fat kid. The invaluable ability to make fun of yourself first, cannot be discounted. There were many times, I wished I was no longer on the planet, but I stayed, thinking surely something better was ahead of me. Thankfully that was the case, but I’ll be honest, the memories will always be quite painful. Thank God there was no internet back then!
What the answer is, I’m not sure. There must be something about society as a whole which still celebrates beauty and the banal. We hear speakers espouse embracing diversity all the time. But somehow that message is not getting through. Despite many people’s and organization’s best efforts, perpetuating hate is a growing cottage industry.