- Gender and Relationships
Taking a Stand Against Bullying
by Amber Maccione
There are numerous things that our American society focuses on, but one thing has really caught my eye – bullying. Bullying has made a huge debut due to numerous adolescents taking their lives. But has bullying been just a recent thing on the rise or has it been around since the beginning of time?
Webster’s dictionary defines bullying as treating someone abusively and to affect someone by force or coercion. So yes, bullying has been here since the beginning. The serpent bullied Eve to eat the Fruit of the Knowledge of Good and Evil by coercion. Her son Cain bullied his brother Abel and eventually murdered him all out of jealousy. Noah was bullied for building the ark God had commanded him to build. Jacob was bullied and then sold into slavery by his brothers for being his father’s favorite. And of course, I could go on and on through the Scriptures showing how individuals were bullied.
If we take a non-Biblical approach, we see that nation after nation bullies each other to gain power, land, resources, etc. We have the Roman Empire; slavery in Europe and America through the conquest of land in Africa and the America’s; Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini; the War on Terror – do I need to go on?
And yet we ask ourselves why do people bully others? Why has bullying in schools gotten out of hand? They say history repeats itself. We have seen it since time first began. We have never really dealt with it until now when it seems to be knocking at every doorstep in America. Finally, the death toll bullying has caused has reached into our homes and grabbed our children to the point that it can no longer be ignored.
I myself was bullied and have bullied others. And the answer to why do people bully stems from one of two things – pain or ego. Mine was out of pain.
I bullied to avoid others from knowing the pain I had inside. I came from a broken home with no stability. Things had happened to me or I had seen things happen to others that I shouldn’t have seen at a very young age – an age that doesn’t understand or know how to cope with it. At first, I was the neighborhood child who would throw myself down on the ground in front of all the neighborhood children just to get them to play as I thought play should be (i.e. what team I should be on, or who was who in a game of playing house, etc.). Eventually, I hoarded my toys and was bossy. I would tell my friends what they could or could not play with. Under great discipline and guidance from my father and step-mother, I became a different person – kindhearted, forgiving, and loving, which eventually made me a target of being bullied.
I was first bullied in high school – 9th grade. I was one of the smart students – in the international baccalaureate program. Our electives were regular electives where I was in with the rest of the population of the school – non-honors, honors, advance placement, etc. One of the electives I chose was art. I got along with the students at my work station in that class. I was glad for that as there was a rowdy group of deviants I could have ended up with. There was this one particular girl though that stood out; we all probably had one in our high school – the girl that was mysterious, quiet, long messy hair, wore tie-die with dragons on it, etc. Well, this group of deviants liked to throw hardened clay at her while everyone was working on their projects. One day I had had enough. So I stood up. I told them to leave her alone. And that was the beginning of me becoming a target. At first, the deviants would manipulate me into doing their work for them. Then as time went on, I was told how ugly I was and how guys would never actually ever want to be with me. I eventually transferred schools (went to my home school by getting out of the international baccalaureate program I was in). Unfortunately, as we all know from high school days, your reputation follows you. And it did. I was labeled a loser. I was never invited to anything. I was called names, had people hide my backpack in the boy’s restroom, was the Valentine’s Day joke in the school paper, and was made fun of for being a Christian and a virgin.
So why did I get bullied? I was different. I didn’t follow the crowd. I lived to the beat of my own drum. Many actually admired that about me and quietly said so here and there throughout my high school career. But for those that bullied me, I think they picked on me because of their own issues. To this day, I don’t know what those issues were, but I am thankful they chose me as a target rather than someone else. I was one of the strong ones; one of the few who could actually handle the ridicule because of the principles my parents had ingrained within me when they were breaking me of being the one who bullied.
Today, I still get bullied (I have had countless students over the years do things to me as a teacher and they only got a “slap on the wrist” – examples: a male student put scissors to my face telling me he was going to make me more beautiful; while tutoring another student, two students tried to stuff gummy bears in my mouth; I’ve been mocked for the mole on my ear that grew while I was pregnant with my son).
Repay with Kindness
In today’s world, we have grandmas on buses being bullied, countless students being bullied, and of course all those that are bullied and keep quiet about it. So what are we to do about such things? The media says take a stand against bullying. What does that look like? How do we take a stand? I think a sermon from my pastor a long time ago had the answer, at least for me. He said to turn the other cheek and be kind. If someone hands you a lump of coal, give them flowers. Here’s a real life example:
There was a girl in my high school that was over weight and used to compensate for her insecurities by bribing people (she was wealthy and would buy people nice things to gain access into the popular group). I was not welcome in the popular group, but I had a guy friend from the popular group who had befriended me. Unbeknownst to me, this girl had a huge crush on him making me a target for ridicule. She spread rumors about me. She would sabotage any pre-relationship I would start with a guy by saying unkind things about me. Well, I took my pastor’s advice. Everyday, I would write her a simple note: “I hope you have a wonderful day. : )” I would give the note to a friend who would anonymously get it to her. Eventually, after a few weeks of this, she figured out it was me. She apologized for being cruel and explained that she was jealous of me and my friendship with this one guy. Today, she runs a foundation named after her brother that was killed in a motorcycle accident. The foundation provides school materials to teachers to provide to students in the Brevard County area of Florida that don’t have the means to provide those things for themselves. All it took was for someone to turn the other cheek and repay them with kindness. That is the answer to bullying.
Have you ever been bullied?
So how do we implement my pastor’s concept? It starts at home with parents teaching their children that it is better to be kind and forgive than to throw a punch – whether or not someone else punched them first. It starts with the counselor, teacher, mentor, coach, etc. encouraging kindness, tolerance of differences, and forgiveness. And it starts with national leaders compromising instead of trying to push their political agendas, which only cause arguments and wars.
Bullying is a historical thing. History repeats itself. When will we as the inhabitants of planet Earth take a look at history and realize we need to stop repeating the bullying and start saving our children?