I have officially been blogging for one year; I’m still waiting on all those flowers and cards by the way folks. To mark this momentous and welcome occasion, I have decided to write about something that’s incredibly personal to me. I hope that my words and experiences shed light on a problem that I see as quite an epidemic in our society.
I was inspired to share my thoughts after watching a video done by a Canadian poet named Shane Koyczan. This incredibly talented fellow composed and recited a stunning poem about Canada that was performed during the Vancouver Olympics opening ceremony. Shane wrote a poem about bullying and I’d love for you to watch it in its entirety and feel the power of his words.
I was incredibly moved by Shane’s experiences and his deep thoughts, and it truly put me in a state of silence and reflection. As a child who was bullied – though fortunately not to the extent that Shane was bullied – I can attest to the disgusting nature of the situation and the feelings of hopelessness, fear, and anger. People who I considered friends ganged up on me near the end of the school year for two years in a row. Spreading vicious rumors, taunting me by threatening humiliation, and breaking me down at every opportunity they had, I truly felt like I was being surrounded and attacked by a pack of piranhas. I felt ostracized and confused and couldn’t understand why I was being victimized. The presence of strong friends, a supportive family and classmates, and the knowledge that this was temporary kept me levelheaded. Summer vacations brought a welcome break and after the second year, I knew I would never forgive the people who put me through such intense misery twice and on purpose. Looking back, I wonder if those girls ever thought for a second that what they did was wrong. I wonder what their perception of the situation was, and if they feel any remorse now.
I was thankful to have not had to go through those experiences again – until now that is. Early this year, my younger sister found herself the target of the same type of vicious behaviour that I was on the receiving end of almost a decade prior. Having to relive the feelings of anxiety and sadness invoked such anger in me, as I was now watching my little bear go through it. My first thoughts were immediately those of protecting her as she is the youngest in our house and everyone is naturally very protective of her. She showed me the things one the girls in her grade wrote and I was just appalled and shocked at the vulgarity and aggression of her words. A part of me wanted to call this girl’s parents and ask them if they were even remotely aware of their child’s disgusting behaviour, and the other part of me wanted to immediately alert the school. To be honest, I don’t think I was as upset at being bullied myself as I was at watching my sister get bullied.
My sister cried in bed to me that night, “I’m scared” she said, and I immediately stopped her. I’m sure my heart cracked into a million pieces watching her feel so defeated and small but I knew that she needed what I needed back then: courage and a little bit of patience.
“No crying”, I said. “You are intelligent. You are beautiful. You are kind. You are strong. This WILL end and you WILL be fine. Do you hear me? You are intelligent, beautiful, kind, and strong.” I told her about how I got bullied when I was younger and I told her that I walk taller and speak louder because of it, and that many years later when I ran into one of the girls who bullied me, I made sure to look her in the eye as a way of reminding her that what she did was inexcusable and that I most certainly had not forgotten. That girl was as weak that day as she was when she bullied me years earlier and seeing her only made me feel more confident and strong.
Being something that has impacted my life, and continues to impact my life, bullying is something I feel very strongly about. It is ugly, it is unnecessary, and it can be very damaging to a child’s character. I call it an epidemic because I’m sure the majority of kids have been bullied before, and it doesn’t seem to have an end in sight. Parents need to be more involved in their children’s lives and usually are able to control the situation and address the problem before it causes any serious damage. Schools need to be better equipped with handling these situations and making sure that bullies are punished in a way that they truly understand the severity of their actions. I’m sure that no one wants to grow up and remember that they were bullied. I am also equally sure that no one wants to grow up and remember that they were the bully.
Watching my sister get bullied lit a blaze inside me. I wasn’t just angry, I was disappointed; disappointed that history was repeating itself but determined to make sure I did my part in the fight against it.
My sister is 12 and I consider her more as my child than my sibling. I’m sure to her it felt like her world was being turned upside down.
Like all kids, she needed support, reassurance, and strength.
If at that moment she couldn’t find it in herself, I wanted to make sure she could find it in me.
P.S Please share Shane’s video!!
P.P.S You can now find me on Facebook