Choose a good reputation over great riches; being held in high esteem is better than silver or gold. She walked into the room, head held high, and whispers could be heard all over. Wasn’t she the one who verbally abused her friends in that meeting? He stood up to give his speech and they started […]
As an activist in the Bullying Awareness Movement, I’ve had many adult survivors of school bullying ask me whether they should send their children to the same school where they were bullied themselves as children and teens. Naturally, my response is a “No!” – or more appropriately, an emphatic “HELL NO!”
Having been a target of bullying from grade six until I finally escaped through a school transfer, I decided during my pregnancy with my first child, that should we ever have to move back to the town I was bullied in, hell would freeze before my children would grace the halls of the schools there.
“What parent worth their own salt would subject their children to that kind of learning environment if they could help it?”
Here are my reasons for keeping my kids clear of *Oakley Schools:
1. Bullies tend to take jobs that give them authority (Teaching, Law Enforcement, Corrections Officer, Supervisor, etc.). I knew that by the time my babies reached school age, the majority of my former bullies would probably be teachers in the small town where I had been a victim (teaching is the second-highest profession for workplace bullying and teachers who bully other teachers are likely to bully students too).
2. In most small Southern towns, such as the town in which I was victimized, the mentality is this:
“If we hate you, we will hate your children even more.”
Because they had targeted me in the past, it was a safe bet that upon their finding out who my children’s mother was, they would target my babies as well, if not worse. Anytime you are or have been a victim of bullies, anything (or anyone) you love and care about is always fair game to them. If they come for you, they will come for those you love also.
I realize that in this day and age of progress and advanced technology, this may sound a little “Hatfield and McCoy” but things like this do happen and more so than we know.
Every situation is unique and naturally, everyone has different experiences. So, again I ask you, Would you send your kids to the same school you were bullied in?
Feel free to comment below.
(*not the real name of the school district)
“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.”
~ Theodore Roosevelt ~
If you are a victim of bullying, you probably have very few friends, if any. It’s not your fault. It really isn’t. Truth be known, you’ve more than likely been bullied by your peers for a long time now and your lack of true friends has compelled you to question your own value.
You wonder what your are doing wrong and may even wonder if you’re a good person. Your family and those who truly care about you may assure you that you are indeed a great person, yet you may be thinking, “If I’m so great, why is it that people at school or at work treat me so badly?”
Believe me, I understand, having been through the same situation and had those very thoughts once upon a time.
However, a lack of friends does not mean you’re a bad person nor does it mean you’re doing anything wrong. You are NOT weak, stupid, ugly, crazy, trash or whatever your bullies may call you. No!
In fact, you just may be doing something right! And because you’re doing the right things, you stand out for it.
Think about it this way: Charles Manson, leader of the infamous Manson Family whom were responsible for several gruesome murders back in the late sixties, had many followers. Jesus Christ, on the other hand, had only twelve.
Also, several big-name celebrities, such as Taylor Swift, Tamar Braxton, Lady Gaga, Prince, Tom Cruise, and Patrick Swayze also got bullied either in a past job, in school or sometime in their pasts and they were very talented and exceptional people. Some of them still get bullied today via hate mail or hate messages online.
Case in point: People who are great, uber talented, exceptional always stand out from the rest. And those who stand out will be targeted by bullies. Do you understand now? Great! I knew that you would!
Rest assured that despite the vile treatment that you may be getting from others, you are awesome and you still matter! Keep standing strong and never let bullies define who you are!
“Whoever said ‘words will never hurt me’ you’re right. Words kill instead.”
~ Unknown ~
A commentary on weight bullying
Self-confidence is THE key ingredient that everyone must have to succeed in life. When you have it,
1. you have better and more fulfilling relationships
2. you are more successful in school and in your career.
3. You have more dates, friends, are more likely to have a great marriage and raise confident and successful children.
But a Perfectionist, on the other hand, is not a confident person and has to work so much harder just to go through life. A perfectionist is insecure with herself and others. She focuses more on herself than others and is always worried about what others may think and say about her. This is why she tries so hard to be, well, perfect.
A perfectionist is both critical of herself and others and tends to have strained relationships because of her obsessive need to be right- all the time- about EVERYTHING!
She thinks that she must be perfect for others to like her and covertly seeks validation from others rather than looking within herself for it. And the outcome is usually adverse.
A confident person realizes that no one is perfect and that they will make mistakes. When that person does make a mistake, she doesn’t make a big deal about it and beat herself up.
Sure, she may be disappointed for a short while but she always gets over it very quickly and “bounces back”.
She may even have a few people who do not like her. But being the confident person she is, she doesn’t concern herself with how she’s perceived because she knows that she is awesome and that there are plenty of others who DO love her.
A confident person is a “proud to be me” kind of individual and always takes care of herself and the people she loves. She always surrounds herself with positive and uplifting people who love her and steers clear of the negative people who want to bring her down.
A confident person sees beauty where a perfectionist only sees flaws. She sees opportunity where a perfectionist sees strife and hard luck.
When I was young, I was a perfectionist. Why? Because I was a beaten down and very negative person who couldn’t see the forest for the trees and I felt I had to be A-1 best before people would like me. I had yet to realize that all I ever needed to be was my natural, authentic self.
When I began to love myself, flaws, quirks, and all, things began to change, and for the better. Now I am at peace and comfortable in my own skin.
Everywhere I look there is opportunity. Everywhere I look, there is beauty because I look for it. I love myself and the people around me.
There’s no benefit to being a perfectionist, you only end up working too hard to meet standards that are more than likely impossible to meet, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere.
Also, you end up failing miserably and in the process, looking like a try-hard.
Confidence, on the other hand, is FREEING and it allows you to be you without fear.
It also brings patience, faith, and positive self-awareness. Instead of spinning your wheels, you move slowly, steadily, and PATIENTLY toward your goals, step by step, until you eventually reach them, therefore reaching success!
“Not everyone deserves to know the real you. Let them criticize who they think you are.”
~ Unknown ~
Sadly, victims of bullying often make poor life choices because of bullying. Years ago, I was a victim and yes, I made some really bad decisions, some of which continue to affect my life today.
At the time, I didn’t really know why I made those decisions. However, today, there is no doubt in my mind that the reason I allowed myself to get into smoking marijuana and having lots of sex during high school was that I was lonely from being bullied.
You see? Most victims of bullying have been bullied for so many years that they will do anything- anything, to be accepted and make friends. After so long, the loneliness, the despair, and the sadness becomes too much to bear and desperation begins to creep in.
Young Targets may do one or more of the following:
1. Try drugs
2. Have unsafe sex/promiscuity
3. Join gangs
4. Participate in crime
5. Commit high-risk behaviors (like drag-racing and dangerous daredevil stunts)
They will sometimes do these things just to feel like they belong.
Girls may begin “dating down”. They settle for either a partner they don’t really love, or an abusive partner just for validation that they too can attain romance and they are worthy of love just like everyone else.
Girls may also deliberately become pregnant because they want so bad to have someone (the baby) to love them.
If you are a victim of bullying, I can’t emphasize enough that you don’t have to do these things to be accepted or to feel loved. There are better options.
Instead of making unwise choices, practice your talents, and do the things you enjoy. Spend time with the people who DO love you. Give a little of yourself to help others every day and I promise you, it will pay off sooner or later.
You will attract genuine friends into your life and best of all, your self-esteem will go up as well.
Confidence is the most important characteristic you can ever have, not only during school to ward off bullies, but all through life. It does not matter how smart you are or how high your grades are.
You can have five PhDs and be the smartest person on the face of the earth. But if you don’t have confidence, you will not be able to effectively communicate nor interact with people. Your social/people skills will be lacking and you won’t get anywhere in life.
Whether you choose to believe this, the reality is that other people really do have control over whether we succeed or fail in life. Other people are the gatekeepers to our success and if you think otherwise, you are only fooling yourself.
I’ll give you a few examples: You can’t get that high position you want without being selected for the job by another person- the interviewer, who could be the owner of the company, an HR manager, or supervisor.
Even during school, although the vast majority of teachers and professors are honest and grade students fairly regardless of how they may feel about the individual, it’s still not unheard of for a student to receive a failing grade solely because the instructor didn’t like them. It does happen, though not often.
Confidence= great people skills= charm= great friends and connections= success!!! Great people skills will always trump smarts, good grades, high marks, and college degrees! Always!
Confidence, or lack thereof, is something that people notice right away when they meet you for the first time. When you walk into a job interview and meet your interviewer, he is going to notice right away whether you are confident in yourself and if you’re not, chances are very unlikely that you will get hired for that esteemed position that you have been coveting. The reason for this is that if you’re not confident in yourself, how then can you expect others to be confident in you?
Make no mistake about it. Confidence is the number one ingredient in all areas of your life. It’s the first trait that potential employers look for and not only potential employers but also prospective associates, prospective customers, friends, and dates. Whether or not you are confident is something that everyone looks at unless they are so low on confidence themselves that they can’t afford to be the least bit selective.
This is why you must never let a bully take away your confidence. If another person has already taken it away, you must fight like crazy to get it back. You do this by surrounding yourself with people who love you and lift you up, doing the things you enjoy and are good at, showing off your talents, taking care of yourself, and taking pride in yourself and in your appearance. Only then will you begin to see your own worth.
If a person steals your confidence, they also steal your potential for success and happy life. In short, they steal your future. Bullies are confidence thieves! Never surrender your confidence to anyone! This brings me back to Ralph Waldo Emerson. He said it best when he made this quote:
“If I have lost confidence in myself, I have the universe against me.”
How right he was!
“You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”
~ Winston Churchill ~
I didn’t experience bullying, nothing beyond normal teasing until I moved to a small Tennessee town after having been an Army Brat and lived in several different areas. Until then, bullying had always been something that happened to kids in the movies.
When I became a target of severe and chronic bullying as a sixth-grader at the age of twelve, I began a long lesson in the human predator/prey dynamic and a battle for my dignity, safety, and my very soul.
During the sixth grade, I never fought back. I’d been taught that decent young ladies didn’t fight. So, I took the physical beatings, name-calling, and abuse.
When I entered seventh grade at the age of thirteen, the harassment by my classmates reached a fever pitch. I was a victim of what is called “poly-victimization.” I was name called, slandered, humiliated, threatened, physically assaulted, the whole nine. And after enough of it, I learned the hard way that I had two choices, either take a stand and fight back or get eaten alive.
But the more I tried to set boundaries, the worse the bullying became.
The physical bullying was brutal. I suffered horrible beatings, and it escalated to the point of having a box cutter pulled on me and my life threatened.
Every morning before going to school, I would feel a huge lump in my throat and swallow hard. It took everything I had in me to step onto that school bus, knowing what would be waiting for me as soon as I walked through the school entrance.
During P.E., I was good at some sports, but not so good in others. I loved volleyball and kickball but basketball and baseball weren’t my strong suits. I was good at music and writing stories, but not as good in sports.
However, students and a few teachers judged me because I wasn’t an athlete or a sorority girl. I was musically talented and very creative. So, what they were doing was akin to judging a fish on its ability to fly.
In just two short years, I went from being a confident and outgoing kid who always made the honor roll, to a sad, withdrawn, angry and bitter girl who made C’s and D’s.
Schoolwork had always been so easy for me. I had been one of those lucky kids who didn’t have to pick up a book. All I had to do was to listen in class and do my homework (which I could get done in minutes), and I’d ace every test. But in a matter of two years, the schoolwork went from being a piece of cake to being difficult and overwhelming.
Who can concentrate on schoolwork when they’re so busy looking over their shoulder and dodging bullies. Who can learn effectively when they’re constantly in survival mode?
The torment became next to unbearable, and I attempted suicide at the age of fourteen, which landed me in ICU for a week. I almost did not make it.
Having my power stripped away was a hell I would not wish on anybody, not even my worst enemy. The trying to keep a calm demeanor amid so much toxicity and the desperately hanging onto my dignity with everything I had was exhausting! I felt as if I were emotionally held hostage by my classmates and yes, even a few school staff as a few of them joined in the bullying as well.
Because I felt powerless, I began to bully those who were even weaker than me in attempts to grab back some of my power, and it is something I am not proud to have to confess today.
I had no one to turn to as bullying was considered a normal rite of passage in those days and something I had to deal with on my own. Anytime I spoke out about or reported the mistreatment, I was shouted down by the other classmates and told to “shut up”, blamed for my own suffering, or perceived as a whiner, thought of as weak, and ridiculed. There was no help nor relief.
I was not allowed to be a human being. There was no margin for error.
They would minimize or ignore any good deed, any accomplishments, and any successes. And they would maximize any mistakes.
If I wore a dress and went to school all dolled up (which I often did in high school), I was trying to either impress the opposite sex or get a date and/or laid. If I wore my jeans the slightest bit tight, I looked like a whore.
If I cried, I was too sensitive. If I laughed, I was trying to get attention. If I got angry, I was crazy. If I was friendly, I was either flirting or trying to kiss up. If I smiled, I was secretly plotting something devious.
I was not allowed to be myself and it was exhausting. It felt as if I were suffering a slow and agonizing social murder.
The last straw finally came during high school when I was four months pregnant with my first child. I was attacked from behind, thrown over a teacher’s desk, then kicked as I lay balled in a fetal position on the floor. Luckily, my unborn child survived and was born healthy later that year.
After the last attack, I was done with Oakley High. I changed schools, and the bullying stopped. Words cannot tell you what a relief it was to finally have the opportunity to transfer to a new school! To a safer environment! One which would be much less stressful!
I loved my new school and felt like a bird out of a cage! The feeling was of being released from a nearly six-year-long prison sentence. I had done my time in hell and now I could put it behind me.
While riding along the highway toward the new school I would enroll in, I sat in the passenger seat with my then-husband (I got married while still in high school) behind the wheel and cried tears of joy.
It was hard to believe that it was over! The persecution! The pain so great I couldn’t even cry! It was all finally over! and I could start a new and so much better chapter in my life. Sure enough, I went on to make friends out of my new classmates and make it to graduation!
I now lead a successful life and use what I went through to help bullied kids today. Anytime I hear of an innocent child bullied into suicide, it truly breaks my heart.
What’s even more heartbreaking is the attitudes and remarks I hear from others around me when a tragedy like this happens! I often hear statements such as:
“But that boy was so quiet!”
“Really??? Still, waters run deep!”
“But that girl always kept to herself!”
“No joke! Just as an AIDS patient keeps his diagnosis to himself!”
“Shame on him! He was such a coward!”
“Right! Anyone running through the woods from a wild boar would look like a coward to someone sitting safely in a tree! You try spending a few years being bullied by everyone you know and see how mighty and brave you are! You’ll find out how quickly your life goes to crap!”
If you haven’t experienced it, you’ll never know what it is to be a target of bullying. I was fortunate in that I survived and moved on to happiness and success. But many victims don’t, which is why writing about bullying and advocating for victims is my passion.
Although being bullied is never a good thing, I did get a few positive takeaways:
1.) Having been bullied has made me appreciate the great friends I have today. It also gave me empathy and compassion for others and a desire to help those who endure the same!
2.) Having been bullied made a strong woman out of me. It made me more determined never to quit until I reach a goal! Knowing that bullies often bully out of jealousy and fear is the motivation for me.’
3.) Being bullied gave me the determination to love myself, put myself first, and the willingness to say “no” anytime I am asked or told to do something which does not feel right!
4.) Having been bullied gave me the determination to follow my dreams, to do things I most enjoy, and to reach success!
5.) Having been bullied has given me hope. Because I know that if I can go through bullying and survive, then I can rise above anything!
6.) It gave me a soft spot and a great willingness to fight for the underdog.
7.) And lastly, it sharpened my BS detector, giving me the ability to read people and to spot a fake a mile away and in a split second!
Being a target of bullying almost broke me, yes! But in the end, it made me! And if you’re a target of bullying and you don’t give up, you can survive and emerge a winner!!!
Bullying can seem like the fight of your life and an unwinnable battle. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Here are 9 ways to reclaim your power and keep the bullies at bay:
1. Document incidences of bullying. I can’t stress this enough! You must keep a record of the intimidation you suffer. When you document, use what I call the 5W Rule: What, When, Who, Where, and Why.
Write down every incident in detail! Include the date and time it happened (when), what happened, who was involved, the names of any bystanders and authority members (students, teachers, coworkers, supervisors, managers, etc.), where it happened and why it happened.
When you document, not only will you discover a pattern, you will have evidence to take to the principal’s office, school board, Human Resources, EEOC, the police, or to court.
2. If you live in a one-party consent state, wear a body camera, or hid a digital recorder somewhere on you. Coupled with documentation, this can give you a slam dunk case! By recording the bullying, the people who can stop it might as well have been there to see it.
3. Counter the bullies’ negative statements. If you counter the comments instead of ignoring them, you’ll feel so much better about yourself, knowing you took a stand. If the bully calls you a name, just come back with, “Oh, I see you have a nose for your own,” or, ”It takes one to know one.”
Any comeback is better than none at all, and it shows you have confidence and that you value yourself enough not to take the abuse.
4. Say, “NO.” If you don’t want to do something, no law says you have to. Never be afraid to say “no.” And when you do, say it with a strong, confident voice and walk away. Setting boundaries is crucial when bullies come calling.
5. Take care of yourself. Self-care is of the utmost importance when you’re a target of bullies. Do the things that you enjoy most. Keep company with only the people who value you. Practice and display your God-given talents and gifts. Doing these things will buffer the hits to your confidence and self-esteem and minimize any damage.
6. Befriend other targets. I promise you. You’re not the only one who gets bullied. There are always a few others who share your pain. Find them, get to know them, and befriend them. Then, band together and make sure you all have each other’s backs. Make double-sure that they have yours!
7. Look your best. Because when you look good, you feel good! Looking good can also buffer your self-esteem from the attacks of bullies.
8. Practice good posture. Posture is important! Stand up straight and with your shoulders back. Walk with a purpose and with confidence. Never look down! Never hunch!
Looking down and hunching shows a lack of confidence and low self-esteem, which will only make you a bully-magnet.
9. Speak confidently. Always speak with a strong tone, never in one that’s low and timid.
You may need a little practice at first. But the more you practice and the longer you do it, the more it will become like second nature.
Bullies get their self-esteem from making others feel bad. They have an insatiable need to feel like they’re better than someone and for power. And if they see someone who’s truly happy, confident, or successful, they will hate that person with a passion and go out of their own way to break them down and make them pay for it.
Bullies will verbally abuse the lucky person, set them up for failure or to get into trouble with authority, try to sabotage the person’s goals and success, humiliate them and try their hardest to destroy them.
You see? Bullies can’t handle the success and happiness of others because they’re not happy and successful themselves. Also, the other person’s good fortune only reminds the bullies of the people they wish to be but clearly aren’t and highlights the bullies’ laziness, mediocrity, insecurities, and failures!
Remember that bullies want to be the center of attention- all the time! They want to monopolize the admiration of others! They want to be top dogs and the best of the best. If they find out that you’re doing much better at life than they are, they’ll come for you locked and loaded, with both barrels!
And they’ll break off a piece of your self-esteem every chance they get.
Understand that the issue lies with the bullies, not you! You’re okay! They’re not! But they’ll try to convince you that it’s about you and whatever they try to say is wrong with you.
There’s nothing wrong with you! Everything the bullies tell you is a lie!
So, kick these confidence leeches out of your life if you can! Because they aren’t even worth knowing! And don’t fall into the emotion and psychological traps that bullies will lay for you! You’re so much better than they say you are! Believe it!