A particular proclamation given at the last Del Norte County Board of Supervisors meeting hit home for me and I don’t mind sharing this sentiment with you all.
Following a declaration that October is National Bullying Prevention Month, Gordon Clay read that every 30 minutes, a teen attempts suicide as a result of bullying. If you know of no other statistics, whether or not you believe them, remember that one.
Anyone with a beating heart will agree that losing a child to suicide would be the pinnacle of heartbreak for a family. That hurt is forever compounded by the discovery the child’s actions were the result of another child’s (or group’s) bullying. It’s impossible for most to imagine what kind of stress and harassment would drive a young person with an entire life ahead of them to feel their life was no longer worth living.
Why does it matter to me? Think back to your own high school days. Remember that long-haired, skinny, indigent, ridiculed, abused outcast chosen last for PE teams, beat up in the locker room, hallways, after school and at school rallies? The one that showed up for class with torn clothes, skinned elbows, bloody noses and swollen lips?
You remember — that kid who was creative and different, while at the same time passive, non-competitive and cripplingly shy? Yep, that was me, and I can tell you that bullying is as real as anything I’ve encountered.
Despite my parents’ suggestions to “get tough and fight back,” I was gripped in fear that doing so would only make it worse. When I finally did, my suspicions manifested tenfold.
Obviously, not all bullied kids attempt suicide but many will feel bruises on their hearts and minds forever.
Some of us have gone on with our lives, knowing that living well is the best revenge. Others carry that burden through life and let it affect their every decision. No one can deny that some eventually snap and take revenge by the most violent of means.
While I am confident and content in my own mind and heart today, I can remember a time when I felt I would never be equal to others or that I would only live up to the names they called me. It took decades to escape that mindset.
Today, I have no animosity toward those who committed such acts as kids. However, it’s worth questioning the adult influences in their lives at the time. I could fill this paper with my opinion but in the interests of brevity, I’ll offer only the following.
Teach your children not to bully the meek, mock the different, ridicule the poor or attack the passive.
Tony Reed is a Triplicate staff writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org