February 29th, 2012 is National anti-bullying day, known as pink-shirt day. A day started several years ago by two kids who decided to stand up for someone who was being bullied because he was wearing a pink shirt. It has since become a National day of protest against bullies.
I was bullied at the end of elementary school and well into high school. The psychological effects of these years of torment lasted me for years, which required counselling to rebuild a battered sense of self-esteem and overcome depression. It was only a couple of years ago that I stopped being stuck in the past and identifying with the self that was bullied.
Perhaps I was bullied because I was the outsider or perhaps it was because I was smaller and what some called a “late bloomer” or perhaps it was because I competed in sports (cross country skiing and biathlon) that kids thought were wimpy (they were proved wrong during a trip to Cypress for PE 11) or perhaps it was all of the above, but I am not sure.
In 1988 we moved to Vancouver from Regina and I started Grade 7 the following September. Even elementary students have built friendships and cliques starting in kindergarten which solidify by Grade 7. To this day it is difficult for me to accept people who want to be friends or have me be part of their group as being genuine.
There are different ideas of how to stop bullying including having the tormented stand-up and push-back. It seems as though some people fold and commit suicide, believing that is the only way out or go on a shooting rampage to get noticed (both sad situations). On several occasions I did consider that ending my life was the only way for me to end the horror. Other times I would run home to lock the doors because I truly feared for my safety.
I am not certain what the solution is, though I do distinctly remember one day in high school when I stopped one of my childhood bullies with pudding.
In between classes I would sometimes go to the cafeteria to get a small bowl of chocolate pudding. After I would find the lockers beside the next classroom, sit down on the floor to enjoy it in solitude. This bully decided that it would be fun to sneak up on me to flick my spoon. With a split second reaction I hurled the entire bowl at him.
It splattered all over his favourite sweater, the lockers across the hallway and the Chemistry room’s door. There was this big streak of chocolate pudding down the hall. This was the only time I was pulled into the Principal’s office for bad behaviour.
We were made to clean it up. I washed the bully’s sweater then hung it up in the boiler room to dry. That was the last time that he bothered me. Bullying is often group oriented, so the bullying itself didn’t stop there.
Bullying doesn’t only happen in school it also happens in the workplace. There is a new private members Anti-Bullying bill
to have the Workers Compensation Board pay for the psychological affects of workplace bullying.
What are you doing to take a stand against bullying? It is great see kids taking up arms against it.
I commit to a bully-free life. Do you?