I don’t discuss this period of my life often, it’s difficult to remember all the details. But I do remember hating Junior High School. I went to three of them, which also meant I was the “new kid” multiple times. Each school presented its own challenges, but the bullies hardly changed.
I was a freckle-face heavy kid. I was constantly reminded of this fact in gym class. Behind the fog of aerosol deodorant (popular in those days), other boys would snicker and make remarks as I changed out of my sweaty gym clothes. Eventually one kid “up’d his game”. Being spanked with my tennis shoes was humiliating, but nothing compared to the moment he assaulted me among a classroom of our peers. He slammed a book against the back of my head, then proceeded to punch me square in the face. I hated my teacher for needing that bathroom break. I hated myself more for just sitting there, tears streaming down my face, acting as if it didn’t happen. But I was scared. We switched schools soon after, but for unrelated reasons.
My second bully took a different approach. He wanted to be friends and I was starving for friendship in this new environment. It didn’t last long, however, as one day my “friend” tricked me into a fight with one of the largest kids on campus. He thought it’d be cool to steal a hackey sack from the bigger kid and point to me as the thief. A constant barrage of throw downs into the hard pavement did a number on my elbows. I remember my coat was bloody inside and it stuck to my arms when I tried to remove it. But once again, I did nothing. My “friend” told me the schoolyard thug would kill me if I ratted him out because, rumor had it, he was a gang member. He wasn’t. But I was still scared.
Bullies suck. They deserve the share of blame, however, I never told anyone. Not my parents or teachers. I was really good at pretending that everything was okay. Fast forward and I wish I had told someone. Maybe I would have performed better academically or been more outgoing in sports. Instead I chose to melt into the shadows – never fully enjoying my grade school years.
My experience has made me more of an aware parent. I can draw on these past experiences to educate my children about social equality, compassion and friendship. I can start developing that open door culture, encouraging my kids to never bottle fear and understand we can fix-it together. Kids should not be scared of going to school. Please tell someone if you or someone you know is a victim of bullying.
Such is the goal of The Creative Coalition and the WWE, by way of the Be A STAR (Show Tolerance And Respect) anti-bullying initiative. The mission of Be a STAR is to ensure a positive and equitable social environment for everyone regardless of age, race, religion or sexual orientation through grassroots efforts beginning with education and awareness. Be a STAR promotes positive methods of social interaction and encourages people to treat others as equals and with respect, because everyone is a star in their own right.
If you’d like to learn more about this special organization, the @BeaSTARAlliance and @WWEMoms are holding a “Twitter Party” on Thursday, September 25th to help raise awareness. There will be prizes given away as well, but you will want to RSVP with theonlinemom.com if you’re interested.
Thank you for listening to my story and if you’d like, connect with me on Twitter.