He was nine at the time, about average size for his age but quieter than most of the other boys. His mom just moved he and his sister from the big city to this tiny rural community where they had family. The school was small and the kids were friendly . . . for the most part. But there was that one kid. The big one who taunted him, teased him about his ears and his small stature. He was a big guy for his age and had a few followers around campus. Colten just ignored him at first, thinking it would stop eventually. But it didn’t stop. It just got worse until the kid caught Colten in the bathroom and shoved him against the wall and sneered at him, “you better be watching your back. And remember, I’m always watching you.” Colten tells no one.
Miles away, in a gated community, a middle aged woman frantically cleans up the mess the puppy made while she was at the grocery store. She weeps silently as her fingers work to repair the tiny rip in her husband’s chair, knowing he will shoot the puppy if he sees the damage. She can handle the beating but not losing the puppy. Her mind is reeling with guilt for not putting the puppy out before she left and worry that she can’t act her way around the fear that’s brewing in her stomach. He can always tell if something is wrong. She should be stronger by now; able to leave him for good. But she can’t. She’s in the grip of guilt that years of bullying have created. Sometimes she even thinks it’s her fault. She tells no one.
Jason is smitten with his new girlfriend. He could hardly believe it when she agreed to date him. Things went okay for a while but when they went bad, they went very bad. She takes his car for hours and leaves him stranded at work until he finally has no choice but to walk home. Once she was gone for two days. She’s always asking for money and knows when his pay dates are. Despite all his efforts to please her, she still tells him he’s stupid and calls him a weirdo in front of her friends. He knows he should end the relationship but then he would be alone, because by now he believes he is stupid and no one else would want him – or at least that’s what she tells him. Jason never tells anyone.
Today in our town, in your neighborhood, in your church, maybe even in your family, someone is being abused and it all started with a bully. Saying that word hurts my mouth. Typing it makes me angry. Because at the root of shame, pain and humiliation, you’ll always find a bully. Maybe it was in grade school, or at a family reunion, on the football team, or at church camp. It might even have been your parent or spouse, the person you depended on to take care of you and keep you safe. The bully is there and made an indention in your very being.
One in five students report being bullied; 64% of those students never reported it to anyone. Do you have any idea the kind of courage it takes to tell someone you’re being bullied? The stakes are high. Sometimes life and death high. All of that has to change if we have any hopes of stopping the terror so many are living everyday. It’s time to say ENOUGH. Step up. Make yourself heard.
It’s our turn to make it right. firstname.lastname@example.org 682-936-4842