Monday, October 24, 2011

Bullying in High School..........Were You Any Help?

When I was in high school, I wasn't popular but I wouldn't say I was anywhere near the bottom of the social pyramid.  At 23 years old, I look back at high school as an experience that if offered a second chance, I wouldn't relive it.  As I scour the web and see news articles about teen suicide and see the anti bullying commercials, I am forced to think about my own behavior in high school.
My philosophy in high school was stay nice enough to the quiet kids, so that if they showed up to the school ready for a killing spree they might spare my life.  While it was somewhat of a (inappropriate) joke, I genuinely believed that a small act of kindness was a enough to a fellow student.  Now don't get me wrong, I was no angel. I had my own personal demons I was dealing with in high school.  So I wouldn't say I went out of my way to befriend the loner kid at lunch.  I usually offered my pity, gave them a small smile, and kept it moving to sit with my own friends.
In retrospect, I don't really remember any obvious bullying in high school.  I will admit, I was more focused on trying to get high school over with, so I wasn't really concerned with the well being of most of my fellow classmates.  But maybe that is the problem.  At 16 years old, you are so self absorbed and so clueless, that the idea of a fellow classmate suffering is beyond comprehension.  To make it worse, we have older, "wiser" people telling us that the kids getting picked on are going to be the successful ones; the ones who will leave us all in the dust financially.

But what happens when their next "succesful" act is their last one?

On October 22, Jamie Hubley, a high school student from Canada killed himself after being bullied for being a figure skater and being an openly gay male at his school.  He was 15 years old.

He wrote on his blog: "I don't want my parents to think this is their fault, either. I love my mom and dad. It's just too hard. I dont want to wait three more years, this hurts too much."


It breaks my heart to see stories like that and for so many reasons.  Because in high school, even if I saw a kid being bullied I don't know if I would of done much to stop it.  It is a horrible thing to say, but I have to question my mind set in high school.  Kids are stupid and inconsiderate.  When we are adults, it is automatic for us to look at stories like this and think that kids should do the "right thing" and step in or that high school is such a short period of our lives that we can get through it.  But how many of us really did step in during a bullying session or actually took the constant physical and emotional abuse of a peer?  I have no memory of doing either in high school.

Some people can argue that suicide is never the answer or carry on about religious beliefs, but that is easy thing to do when you are not the one dealing with the issue head on.  Bullying seems like such a normal part of growing up, like a survival of the fittest.  If you don't fight back, then you deserve whatever beating you get.  But it is not as simple as that.  When who you are in one small aspect of your life defines who are to the world (i.e. your weight or sexuality), it is hard to move past that when the world (high school) beats you down for it and no one comes to your rescue.

High school is such a distant memory for me (one I often choose to forget) and too far in the future for me to worry about for my future kids.  However, my prayers go out to the families that have lost their teens to suicide and to the kids that still struggle to get through high school. 

I don't think bullying will ever be a thing of the past, because that is like saying ignorance will one day go away. I hope people will learn that they shouldn't turn away when someone is being bullied and turn back when it is time to mourn, but to step in even when high school politics tell you not to and reach out a hand.  Because when someone is drowning, often all they need is one hand to pull them out.

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