By Dawn Cranfield
Bullying… Will it Ever End, or has it Just Evolved?
A few days ago I had the opportunity to watch the full-length YouTube video of Amanda Todd describing the downward spiral of her adolescence after being bullied by her peers, both online and in school. The video is an eight minute, 55 second, powerful and mesmerizing epic tale of this young girl’s struggle of what she felt like was a losing battle of her against the world. As an outsider looking in, with hindsight to guide me, and the wisdom and strength of an adult, it is easy enough to say “If only she would have waited it out, things would have become easier, they would have become much better.”
However, each one of us much walk our own path and determine what we can and cannot accept from outside influences; for Amanda, the bullying became too much and she opted to take her own life. In Amanda’s video, she “described being called names, eating lunch alone and resorting to cutting herself. She also told the story of an incident where she made a ‘huge mistake’ and ‘hooked up’ with a boy at her school who had a girlfriend, but who she believed really liked her, which led to being beaten up at school.” (abcnews.go.com)
While Amanda’s case received an abundance of international attention, there are many more cases eerily similar to hers, Eden Wormer of Vancouver, Washington, committed suicide in March of 2012 after being bullied by a group of girls in school. “Her older sister Audri said Eden changed her appearance several times, dying her hair, tanning and getting contact lenses, to get the girls to stop harassing her,” says Emine Sinmaz of the Daily Mail.
When I was younger, I was bullied as well, not to the extent of these two particular cases, but bullied. My family moved frequently and I was often the new kid in school, changing 15 times before I graduated. As a result, I never settled in with a core group of friends and was not part of any group. My sister and I were called “The Frankenstein Sisters” by a group of kids in one town. I could not tell you why, other than the fact that we were the children of a miner, and we moved into an exclusive country club where, I am certain, they all had much more money than we did. My brother and I once attended a school on a Navajo Indian Reservation where we were the only two Caucasian children and we were teased relentlessly in a language we did not understand.
Those are just a few examples I could think of immediately, most I do not care to remember. Being new and friendless, I often ate lunch alone, and I rarely attended
Being an adult, most people think our bullying days as being over; however, I believe the majority of people in our society truly never leave their high school selves behind. If somebody has a bullying personality in high school, they have a tendency to carry it on with them throughout their lives, or even adopt one later on if it suits them.
As a working adult, I have been bullied by groups of women who make it abundantly clear they are jealous for whatever reason, as they have a tendency to talk behind my back and make me feel unwanted. Perhaps, my skirt is too short, I may be too talkative to the men that stop by my desk, or I may simply be too nice in general; never mind the fact that I am willing to go out of my way to help them with any request they may have. The men are no better; I have walked by cubicles and have heard men opining about a personal situation in my life in a terribly rude and nasty manner leaving me feeling uncomfortable and unwelcome.
In a world where I was striving to do my best, finish my work and help others, I found I was not rewarded. Looking around, I noticed fitting in meant only being average, looking average, not too thin or too pretty, performing only the average amount of work and not one bit extra, as doing so would not get you rewarded or was even encouraged, and behaving in an average way, not going out of your way to help anyone. Well, I cannot conduct myself in that manner, I make an effort with my appearance, I finish all of my work and offer to help others, and I am nice to people even if it means going out of my way.
Each time I read about a child being bullied I cannot help but wonder about the attackers and how small and insignificant they must feel. People who bully seem to do so out of frustration, fear of those who do not conform and who are different from they are, and out of low self-esteem. I realize this does little to assuage the grief of parents who have lost their children, or even of the victims of bullies, I know it does not. I wish I could say the bullies grow out of their need to pick and tease, I do not believe they do, but I believe one day they will run into an even bigger bully… it just will not be me as I refuse to play their game.
See Amanda Todd’s video here: