Stop bullying…

I bullied three girls…one boy…possibly more.

I won’t subject them to further abuse by telling you what I said or who they were…but I belittled them, teased, laughed and poked fun.  One girl changed schools from the abuse she endured.

If I were to defend myself, I would state that I didn’t start anything… didn’t make the names up…didn’t lead the masses in any kind of taunting or start the laughter behind their backs.  In fact, in most cases, I felt terribly awkward and horribly uncomfortable and didn’t participate in anything at all but the thing is…I didn’t stop it. By not stopping it, by being part of the crowd, I was just as bad as the bullies who sought out their victims.

Maybe worse.

As the years have gone on, I’ve hoped that young people are better educated, more tolerant and respectful of one another. I’ve talked to my children about my thoughts on bullying…that while I was never a victim of bullying and never outright bullied (though it’s possible someone saw it differently), not standing up for and helping one of my peers made me part of the problem.

We hear of the most heinous stories in the news of young people being beaten and left for dead. Burned. Drowned. Raped. Over and over we hear these horrible tragedies at the hands of “school mates.” There are multiple teen suicides from young people who just can’t take the emotional pain any longer; sometimes there are other issues in their lives and the bullying is the last straw. If you’re not accepted by your peers how the hell can you accept yourself?

We live in a time where it is easier for teens to taunt and tease, belittle and berate one another. What was once done on the school yard, where a child could escape to the safety of their home, is now…with social media…following these children wherever they are and they can’t get a break. It’s on their Facebook pages, their emails, their cell phones and computers. It’s with them when they’re in the mall, curled up watching TV with their parents, in their rooms working on their homework, on their family vacations and at their sporting events. It’s with them quite simply because with today’s technology they can’t get away from it.

Parents are fighting a much harder battle to protect their children than ever before. There needs to be much done to help them whether it’s further education, stricter policies and  shutting down social media programs that allow “anonymous” comments. Young people need to respect each other. Respect the fact that everyone is different, people make mistakes and no one wants to be treated badly. Can you imagine how different our children would be if they treated each other with empathy, compassion and kindness?

Young people, who are afraid of being bullied themselves, need to make a stand to stop this epidemic…the same way I should have. Stop tolerating other people’s abuse and think for a second how it would feel if it was happening to you. Tell a parent, tell a teacher…if you can’t make the change on your own, find someone who can. If enough people started thinking about other people rather than themselves there’s a small chance that we can stop this abuse… and save lives.

I bullied three girls… one boy… possibly more. It breaks my heart to think of the discomfort these kids endured and can’t imagine how much worse it would have been given today’s technology.

I truly hope I’m part of the change to educate our children and stop this abuse.