This Makes My Heart Ache… (approx. 6 ½ - 7 ½ min. read)

Bullying, need I say more? It’s been going on since the 18th century and continues to this very day. I was bullied in school; my kids were bullied in school and their kids are now being bullied in school so for me it doesn’t feel like much has changed. I feel like bullying is still pretty much considered “innocent misadventure’ or ‘misbehaviour,” for the person doing the bullying because when the victim seeks out help, they are basically told that they should just stay away from “that child.” That if they didn’t put themselves in harm’s way, they wouldn’t get bullied; almost like it’s the victim’s fault instead of it being the other way around.

Today there are four types of bullying; verbal, social, physical and cyber, but back in my day there were only three. Most of the bullying I’ve had to deal with has been verbal, and sometimes that’s harder because negative words can still be bouncing around in a person’s head, long after their physical scars have healed.

I started to get bullied when I was quite young, and it always seemed to be comments about my physical appearance. One of those nasty comments was about my hair and the fact that it was so blonde, it looked almost white, so I got called an Albino all the time. When it first started I didn’t quite understand what an Albino was, only that they were different but because of my home life, and the fact that I already felt like I was different, this made me feel like I didn’t fit in anywhere.

Kids would point and laugh. They would push me and say nasty, hurtful things to my face and I would cry – a lot. When I reflect back on my childhood, I feel like I spent the better part of it crying, but when I talked about it and tried to get help, I was always told that I was far too sensitive.

As I got older, the bullies stopped calling me an Albino and instead started calling me something worse; a name that was a reference to a male’s bodily fluid and that name was given to me by a boy I wouldn’t have sex with. He was a football player and had never had a girl say no to him, needless to say, that when I said no to him, he was so offended he spray-painted “Davina C. cum coloured,” all over our school!

It was mortifying! There were people at school that hadn’t called me names prior to the spray-painting incident at the school, and now they were joining in on the bullying. The worst memory I have of the incident was that nobody seemed to care that I was being bullied! In fact, the only adults interested in helping me remove the damaging graffiti from the school were the parents of one of my good friends – the Dullaerts.

Years later when my first child started school I was disappointed to find out that not much had changed when it came to bullying because it wasn’t long before she was being bullied as well.

I was working full time, so I had to put her in an after-school program. For the first couple of weeks, it was great, but then one day closer to the end of the first month, all that changed. I got to the school to pick her up and she ran towards me crying. I looked for the reason and was quick to notice that she had a huge goose egg in the center of her forehead. I turned to the program coordinator and asked her what happened, and she responded by saying that a boy in the program had pushed my daughter down the stairs. When I tried to question her about it, she told me that although it had happened in her program, I needed to speak with the principal about it because it happened on school property.

I immediately headed towards the office to speak to the principal, but he passed the responsibility back over to the after-school program. I tried to talk to him, but he basically said my daughter must have done something to provoke it. Needless to say, I was forced to withdraw her from the program and find a private babysitter to take care of her after school.

My second child was treated pretty much the same, but it wasn’t just happening on school property; her bullying escalated to the point where she was being followed home from school by her tormentors. They would say nasty things to her, all the while throwing things at her and they physically harmed her more than once – the worst thing was that they were relentless.

I spoke to the school, but they refused to do anything about it; they said the bullying wasn’t happening on school property, so it wasn’t their responsibility. I argued with them because I believed it was their responsibility. All of the abuse was happening while my daughter was walking home from school and if it wasn’t their responsibility to keep her safe until she got home, whose was it?

Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months, and I watched my youngest daughter fall into a downward spiral. She became terrified to go to school and she started shutting down on a Sunday in anticipation of what she knew was facing her at school. It was so hard to watch because she was becoming depressed and it seemed like nobody cared. I spoke to the school every day, but they just kept passing the buck, so I called the police.

I thought that if I got the police involved, they would definitely get the bullying to stop but after listening to her story they told her that if they got involved, it would only make it worse and told her to just keep her head down. She agreed, what else could she do?!

Now, almost five decades later, unfortunately not much has changed. I have four grandchildren ranging in age from four years old to eight years old. They are all gingers; redheads, but the hair on my oldest grandchild is more brown than red, so it appears that hair colour doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to bullying because every one of them has either been bullied or is currently being bullied at school.

It makes my heart ache. Why is bullying still an issue amongst our kids? Statistics state that almost two hundred thousand kids stay home from school each day because they’re afraid of being bullied. Why is that and why do I feel like there aren’t enough people asking what is wrong with this picture?!

A large portion of these kids are turning to suicide because to them it doesn’t seem like anyone is listening to their fears. Suicide has become the third leading cause of death amongst our youths and the numbers are worse for bully victims because they are more likely to consider suicide as an out, than someone who isn’t being bullied.

If you aren’t sure what to look for, here are some of the warning signs of suicide:

·       Showing signs of depression, withdrawing from others, losing interest in activities they used to love, ongoing sadness, trouble going to sleep, or staying asleep and eating

·       Showing or talking about an interest in dying or death

·       Engaging in harmful activities like self injury, substance abuse or reckless behaviour

·       Saying good-bye to loved ones or giving away a person’s favourite possessions

·       Saying they can’t take it anymore, that life is too difficult for them to handle

·       Saying the world or the people around them would be better off without them

In all conscience, it’s really tough knowing that bullying is still going on, especially when two out of nine kids being bullied feel that suicide is their only option. Victims are still being made to feel like it’s their fault they’re being bullied, and that they have nowhere to turn. Honestly, I fear for my grandchildren as well as for the youths of today because it seems like things are getting worse instead of getting better, and it begs the question - when are we going to start helping the victims instead of continuing to make excuses for the bullies?!

Stay safe and stay strong. Thanks for following.

This Makes My Heart Ache… - (approx. 6 ½ - 7 ½ min. read)