Jr. High... there was no one incident that particularly comes to mind but I do remember crying. A lot. Kids were mean to each other left and right for no apparent reason. If you weren't popular you got picked on just because. Either you weren't wearing the right name brand. You had glasses. You didn't know how to correctly apply your make-up (I got teased for make-up lines quite a bit, so much so I didn't wear make-up for years). Anything kids could make fun of you for, they did. It got so bad I did think of suicide at times, even trying to suffocate myself with a pillow once. I often prayed at night for God to just take me in my sleep.
High school... it seemed a lot of the jerks left and went elsewhere by the time Jr. High was over, but the school still had its cliques. While our class got smaller, so did my ally of friends as many when off to other schools. My freshman year, I really only had one friend close friend at school and even she wasn't that great of a friend at times. We had been mutual friends in junior high - my best friend was also her best friend so when our best friend went else where for the 1st half of high school, we were kind of left with each other. She was also the shortest person in our class so obviously she got teased a lot for that.
There were 2 boys in particular that bullied and harassed us the most during our freshman year. She had a crush on one of them (why I'll never know, as he was always a jerk to us), so they teased her about that too. And since I was her friend, when she wasn't around for them to torment, they would torment me instead. And what sucked is that her and them all had last names starting with 'W' and mine a 'Y' so since assigning seats alphabetically was easier for the teachers, we always got stuck sitting in the same area of the room together. An entire semester went by with me constantly pulling spit wads and boogers out of my hair among other crap they'd throw in it while sitting behind me, constantly have them whispering mean comments to me during class, constantly kicking the underneath of my chair during class, distracting me or purposely knocking my books and papers onto the floor. They would steal pens and other supplies and personal items out of our backpacks.
Granted, my friend got it worse than me, although most of this would happen during class and the teachers would be completely oblivious to it, only saying when one of us would scream or yell out at them to stop, and even then, we'd get in trouble for disrupting class and the boys would laugh and continue to torment us when the teacher wasn't looking.
We eventually got sick of it and I had the brilliant idea to wrote an anonymous note to the school administrator addressing everything that had been happening to us with these 2 boys and we signed it "2 concerned students". Why anonymous? Simple logic really - if they knew it was us that tattled on them, they'd harass us and bully us even more.
The administrator got our letter and addressed the issue, suspending both boys with an ISS (in school suspension) and made them write us apology letters saying it would stop. I was relieved. My friend though, having a crush on one of them (again, I still have no idea why), felt bad that they got in so much trouble and wrote him and apology letter back, sticking it in his locker so he'd get it at the end of the day.
The next morning we were called into the office and questioned about her letter. I had told her not to do it, but what do I know. The administrator felt he was taken for a fool by her. And he had branded me a liar as when it came up where my mother was (as we were neighbors with the man and my family had known him for years) I told him she was at Bible Study that morning. It was a Wednesday, Bible Study is on Thursday, but what he failed to realize, ask or bother to let me explain is that my mom was on the leadership team, which has meetings on Wednesday morning to go over the lesson plan for the next day. But again, he didn't bother to ask me to clarify, he just thought I was lying. And sent us both to ISS, violating his own policy handbook for the school he had written which states a student's parents would be called before a student was suspended. And we were forced to write apology letters to our tormentors AND their families. I completely half-assed my letters, as I didn't even know why I was there or what I was apologizing for. At one point I was tempted to apologized that their sons were such horrible rotten kids but I knew that wouldn't help my case any.
Needless to say, mom picked me up from school, I told her everything in the car, she called the school as soon as we got home, furious with them for what happened and them not notifying her and we had a meeting with the administrator the next morning before school. He admitted he overreacted and should have let me explain. It got scratched off my record and THANK GOD for the rest of high school those boys never talked to me again. The next 3 years our lockers weren't next to each other, I wasn't in the same room with them... the rest of the semester the teachers finally got a clue and moved our desks to opposite sides of the room. It stopped with them.
The rest of high school was pretty easy, aside from the occasional girl drama among friends, by the time I was a senior I had a solid group of friends to hang with so ignoring the people that were mean was easier, and I was the editor-in-chief of the newspaper and people were kissing up to me just to get their name or picture into it. I was quite amused!
So... what's the point of me sharing my story?
Well, this week a young girl at my former high school killed herself.
My sister knew her - they had done trampoline at one of the local gyms together for at least 4 years and my sis considered her to be like a younger sister back then. While they were in high school together last year, there's a 3 grade difference between them so they didn't interact a whole lot, aside from a "hi how are you?" here and there in the hallway. Sadly, my sis does recall there were some nasty, mean rumors going around the school about the girl last year.
My sis herself was the victim of some nasty, mean rumors as well and was labeled a slut and a whore by various popular girls and boys all because some of her friends were guys - it only escalated last year when she befriended a student who was homeschooled but attended the school for 2 classes so he could play football. They were nothing more than friends - my sis was seeing her now-husband by then - but she wasn't popular and he was a football player and yeah... how dare that be allowed! Kids were spreading rumors that she was selling herself down on 7th Street (the known area in town where the hookers are) for lunch money too - I remember my sis staying home from school the rest of the week waiting for that rumor to stop.
And we're not the only ones to have been bullied and tormented there in a "Christian" school. Honestly, all the alumni I'm in touch with still, all look back and talk about how much they hated their time there. How it was the worst time they ever experienced. Some had it worse than others, some I had no idea went through similar torments like I did - it just goes to show, you never fully known what's going on with those around you - it's easy to put on a happy face and fake how you really feel when you have to.
The problem is, the school fails to acknowledge and accept there's a problem. That this crap happens there, in their Christian school. And it's been going on for years. I know I'm not the 1st kid to get bullied and tormented while there. I know there were plenty others. The administrator that was there that somewhat dealt with my problem, that was his last year. The current administrator, until this week, has flat out said this stuff doesn't happen there - I know this for a fact as I know parents and alumni (I myself have expressed concerns to various current staff members and even written emails) and even faculty have tried to bring this to his attention, with him refusing to accept, acknowledge or believe it! I know for a fact he was told a year ago that mean, vicious rumors were being spread about students, that good Christian students were being bullied in his Christian school for simply trying to be good Christian kids and that it was only a matter of time until something tragic happened if wasn't taken more seriously. Sadly, that something tragic happened this week. And I really hope to God it's an eye-opener to him as this could have been prevented had he listened instead of being ignorant.
I mean no disrespect for the girl's family and true friends (and I honestly wonder how many of her tormentors are now playing the sympathy card rather than acknowledge that they were part of what drove her to do what she did) - if anything I'm upset and furious FOR them at the school's lack of preventing it, as I said, the bullying problem is something that's been ongoing there for years but was refused to be dealt with when parents and others brought it to attention. I was told on Facebook tonight I was out of line and disrespectful for blaming the school the way I did. But the truth is, as others that backed me up have said, it needs to be addressed. If not now, when? We don't want or need more kids killing themselves while the school continues to deny the fact that there is a problem.
Yes, I'm aware that private Christian schools really are no different than public school aside from the uniforms, Bible classes and weekly chapel services. However when you're spending thousands of dollars a year on tuition to send your child there, you're expecting them to have a better, safer experience than they would in the public schools. You're expecting they wouldn't have to deal with the crap and be exposed to certain things on the same level as you would in a public school. When you pay that much money, you expect to get your money's worth.
And when you have Christian kids being bullied in a Christian school for trying to be good Christian kids, there's obviously a problem. And it needs to be addressed. And it's just sad that this had to happen.
I hugged Jay extra tight tonight. And while he's too little to understand and not quite used to concepts of "play nice" and "sharing" yet, I told him that if anyone is ever mean to him that he can always come to mommy and daddy and we'll find a way to take care of it. And if he ever is a bully, well, you can bet your buttons there will be action taken to put a stop to it.
Were you ever bullied as a kid or teenager?
Have you personally been affect by something like this?