It is de facto that bullying has been experienced in most of our lives as children and as adults. It has many ignitors, such as your social class, your looks, your race, your education, and your personality. Childhood bullying is probably the worst. The bully says in essence that you are a non-person, someone to be ridiculed just for existing; you are perceived as not fit to be in the same company as the bully (bullies). At first the bullied might feel surprise, maybe anger, but then depression sets in as he or she wonders, what is wrong with me? The bullied stands naked before the world, stripped of all dignity, ashamed to be alive, dreading the daily torture of being bullied. Death sometimes seems the only way out and thus tragically suicide often ensues.
I was first bullied at the age of 10 when I was in the fifth grade. It happened on a school bus. I rode one all 12 years of my education. My mom had just given me a home perm which took hold of my thick strands like a bulldog. My hair billowed out in every direction with curls. I probably had the first Afro ever seen on a white person! Now if you are a veteran of school buses, you know that in the morning everyone is very sedate and you can hear that proverbial pin drop as kids try to wake up for the day. But contrast that to the afternoon ride home with loud talking, hollering, spit balls, and fights. One afternoon I sat in a bus seat by myself and three older girls sat in the seat behind me. Suddenly I felt a tug on my hair and a giggle. It had begun. I would turn around and the three would look surprised and deny pulling my hair. This continued until I got off the bus at my stop. Day after day my heart would sink as I got on the bus to go home. The hair pulling escalated as the three found other ways to torture me. They would make up jingles and songs about my hair and sing loudly between laughing; they said my hair looked like moth balls.
Now, you may ask, where was the bus driver? I honestly don’t know! In my day only men drove school buses. He never stood up and told the bullies to stop. Maybe he was just enduring and “letting kids be kids.” But there was a day of reckoning coming that forced him to act.
My sister was three grades ahead of me and never rode my school bus until one day, for some forgotten reason, she did. She sat with me and the three mean girls gleefully sat behind us. One gal was the spokesperson for the three bullies, and she screamed and hurled insults like a maniac every day until I got off the bus. That day she made a fatal mistake. She pulled my sister’s hair. My sister turned around and grabbed that girl by the hair of the head and drug her to the isle of the bus where a fight ensued that was the talk of my neighborhood for years. The two girls fought tooth and nail, pulling out clumps of hair and punching each other. It is hard to say if there was a winner, both fought like tigers, but the bus driver finally had to intervene. Of course everyone had to go to the principal’s office and explain what happened. I used to tell those bullies through tears, “God will make you pay!” and thankfully that day my sister helped that happen!
Now my sister and I looked much alike, so that ironically by the next school year legend had it that I was the one who fought the bully! I enjoyed that immensely as no one on the bus dared to mess with me. Years later, the girl that fought my sister apologized to her.
What is my point? Bullying is like throwing pebbles in the water and watching the ripple effect. Fast forward two years. I would not even look at myself in the giant mirror in the girl’s restroom at school. I was afraid someone would point at me and start laughing. I did not know how to “primp” – only girls who were accepted did that.
I believe that most people in life are bullied at some point in time, so how do they survive? It depends on many factors, including home life and spirituality. For many it is just an incident in the past and their human spirit triumphs. Others become marginal people with little or no self confidence. I have finally realized God made me for a purpose and His love is there no matter what happens. Bulling is a heart condition and will always affect the human race. Campaigns to stamp out bullying will never work; only faith in God, loving ourselves and others, and forgiving the past will undo the harm of bullying.