Sticks And Stones – Building Bullies

“You’re a fat, fat gross lady.”

Those words were said to me by a young boy (about 8 I think?) at the play place the other day.  This same lad thought it alright to also berate my young son while they were in the bouncy castle.  He and his friends bounced around Bean calling him all sorts of names.  Bean is too young yet to understand what they were saying – and the malice behind it – but soon he won’t be.  Soon he’ll understand that these boys were making fun of him, not playing with him.  His laughter will turn to tears as he realizes that they were being mean, malicious little assholes.  And I have to wonder if this child had absolutely no fear at calling me fat and gross TO MY FACE what does he do to other children his own age?

And where the fuck were his parents?

Kids say things.  I know that.  Calling me fat isn’t really an insult, it’s a stated fact.  I am fat.  But also calling me GROSS…that’s learned.  Somewhere along the line this boy learned that fat = gross.  Somewhere along the line this little boy learned how to shame, how to bully.

And this is where it needs to stop.  If anyone ever told me about Bean being a bully, I would take a good hard look at OUR behavior and correct both mine and his.  Take responsibility for your children parents – if they are accused of being a bully, it’s up to you to STOP THE BEHAVIOR.  None of this “boys will be boys”.  No denial – no ignoring the issue and hoping it will go away.  Words hurt.  Words can stay with someone their entire life causing mental distress and low self esteem.

Take this story, for example.  A little boy is bringing his Rainbow Dash backpack to school and is being bullied.  The school reacts by banning the boy’s backpack, calling it a trigger for bullying.  But the boy says he had been bullied before, and I KNOW he’s going to be bullied after.  The backpack is just a scapegoat.  Did the school react badly?  YES.  They basically taught this boy, his bullies, and all the other kids that victim blaming is ok.  That if you are getting bullied you are asking for it.  That’s some fucked up shit right there.  I read these stories and I wonder about the bullies parents.  Do they know their kids are being little assholes?  Do they know they are building bullies?  Do they care?

Kid bullies grow up to be adult bullies.  People who feel it’s ok to shame, berate and just be complete asses to total strangers.  Like this douche-canoe in Boston who thought it was just a-ok to make an underhanded comment to a woman on a train, and then just run away like the coward we all know true bullies to be.  He probably called a fat lady gross when he was a kid too.

I’ve been bullied my entire life.  By other kids, strangers, boyfriends, supposed “friends”.  The type of bullying varied but the undercurrent remained the same – they all got off on the power it gave them to make another human being feel worthless.  To make them afraid to come to school.  To assert their beliefs on someone else with detrimental effects.

I still wear each and every scar.

Parents, PLEASE, whether your child is being bullied or is being accused of being a bully, take this seriously.  It starts with us – schools and other public places can only do so much.

No child should have to live in fear and no adult should have to suffer such scars.

The only opinion who matters to me - and he thinks I'm pwiddy.

The only opinion who matters to me – and he thinks I’m pwiddy.


Cyber Bullying

I’m all cuddled up in a warm, soft bed with a warm, soft baby trying desperately to take a much needed nap.  On my computer sit two blog posts that I wanted to finish and post tonight – one about the International Day of the Girl yesterday.  Neither of those things are happening because I watched a video.

This video by Amanda Todd who was cyber bullied and committed suicide this week.  You have to watch it on the news story as You Tube took the original down.

This hit so close to home.  Having been bullied and taken advantage of from grade 7 onwards I know.  I know the fear.  The anxiety.  The guilt.    I understand the desire to just make it all go away.

I can’t believe that people are STILL trying to find fault with her actions.  She may have made a mistake.  That’s what teenagers do.  They make mistakes so that they can learn and become adults someday.  At least we hope they do.

Some are calling what she did a “cry for attention”.  Are you fucking kidding me?  Of COURSE it was a cry for attention.  It was a silent SCREAM for help.  When you are terrified of losing the love and respect of the only people still around you your actions become symbolic of your feelings.  She needed people to pay more attention.  She drank bleach for goodness’ sake.

I don’t blame her.  I can’t.  For many reasons but most of all because she could have been me.  Had the faceless internet been available to those who tormented me – would my life have been any different?  Would I still be here to type these words?  The internet has given rise to a type of bullying that the laws and schools and even parents are struggling to catch up to.

The school isn’t to blame.  I have seen many comments asking why the school didn’t step in.  Often the hands of the teachers are tied, if they even know there is a problem to begin with.  They ignore bullying because they lack the power to do anything about it.  Often the parents of the bullies cause a stink.

The parents – who’s to really say?  My parents only found out what was going on in one school because they came home to find me sobbing on the floor one day.  When they moved me into a new school which ended up being worse I found a way to hide it from them – I felt guilty for making them worry.  In my mind it was my fault and I didn’t want the last people who loved me to abandon me.

I hope they find that pervert who coerced a grade 7 girl to flash him, took a picture, stalked her, and spread the picture to all of her family and friends.  Twice.  I hope they lock him up and throw away the key.

From what I understand the group who beat her and left her in a ditch threw a party after her death to celebrate.  People who made fun of her are writing on her memorial wall saying they loved her and will miss her.  What bullshit!

One of the people who tormented me in grade 7 and 8 saw me in a mall when I was just over 20.  She came up and tried to chat me up as if nothing had ever happened.  I remember looking at her and all those fears and anxieties came rushing back.  I couldn’t believe she had forgotten.  I asked why she thought I would want to speak with her after they way I had been treated.  “We were just kids, right?” was her response.  Just kids.  These girls and boys knew EXACTLY what they were doing.  Amanda moved from the school where they were into a new school and they TRACKED HER DOWN and bullied her there.  The internet has given bullies the ability to find victims and continue the attacks long after the victims have physically gone.  How much more would I have endured if my bullies could have found me so easily?

Anyone saying that bullying has always been around and this is the same is on crack.  Adding cyber into the mix makes things easier for bullies and worse for the bullied.  There is no escape.

But what’s to be done about it?

Amanda’s death has triggered a heated dialogue across the country about bullying in schools, cyber-bullying and mental health.  It’s shone a light on the lack of protection kids have against cyber attacks.  It’s shown us that children are slipping through the cracks – some with deadly results.  It’s highlighted a need for Canada to get serious on mental health issues and make sure that the support is there for those who need it.

It’s made me cry.  For Amanda and her life spent in anxiety and fear.  For my lost childhood.  For all those suffering in silence right now.  For the future that my son might have.

Something needs to change.  What we have isn’t working.  New laws are being stopped in parliament because anti-bullying means against homophobia too (I’m looking at you Conservatives).

I, for one, will raise my children with empathy and strength.  The ability to stand up for themselves but also for others.  The knowledge that they can ALWAYS come to me and I will move heaven and earth to help them.

I hope you have finally found peace, Amanda, and someone to eat lunch with.