|Posted on December 29, 2011 at 12:40 PM|
I am currently watching one of my dearest friends struggle as she witnesses her daughter being bullied in one of the most sinister ways, I feel so much pain for both of them. I also think back and wonder if this is how my mother felt when we watched me go through the same thing so many years ago.
Bullying has evolved over the years and I think is more heinous than ever, but anyone who has been on the receiving end will tell you that the effects last for years and sometimes a lifetime.
For me, it started with name calling in Kindergarten! Being made fun of for my clothes and wearing the same shirt twice in one week. I remember being mortified when my mother confronted my attacker (hey, it was serious at 5 years old - I felt my world was falling apart). That just added fuel to the fire - mommy to the rescue was not what I thought that I needed and it just gave them more ammunition.
But it was all downhill from there. When grade two hit and mom had my hair cut off to the now so popular "pixie" style life got worse. Short hair might be ok now, but in 1985 trust me, it was not in any way shape or form acceptable for a little girl. I heard on a daily basis and often many times daily at school just how ugly I was and how much I looked like a boy. This one, repeated insult shaped who I became and who I still am to some degree - the INCREDIBLE power of words, even from a child.
If you tell someone something often enough, they start to believe it.
This was certainly the case for me.
I was smart. I even used to do the popular girls homework in grade four hoping that she would be my friend. It didn't work...
I was a singer and excelled in the band program, but being a band geek wasn't so cool either and that label of being ugly and looking like a boy was something that haunted me.
Even up to grade ten - yes grade ten - so called young adults....I can vividly recall an incident with one of the in-crowd turning around and telling me that I was ugly in the middle of a religion class - totally out of the blue and unprovoked. I almost got up and walked out of class only for the simple fact that I did not want to draw attention to myself.
Feeling accepted is known to be one of the greatest and most basic of human needs, yet as a society we learn at a very young age how to manipulate that to hurt others. And I am sorry to say but GIRLS ARE THE WORST!!! I don't know if it is innate or what but girls are just downright cruel to each other. Boys will fight it out and then they are friends again but girls are vindictive and gossipy and just nasty.
They start out by excluding friends and even siblings at an early age (I have witnessed this already); but then things move on into came calling and spreading rumors. And with the extreme advances in technology and social media they can get their digs in without a second thought. Spewing status updates of "hanging with my besties (insert names)" while the one being left out is home alone or calling around to unanswered cell phones and text messages. Cyber bullying often uses social media, texting and instant messaging to accomplish the nasty deeds but is just as devastating as any other form.
I personally feel that the current state of communication and the fact that we can detach ourselves from other people's emotions because we do not have to look them in the eye is the death of our society! We have more ways to communicate than ever yet our communication skills are at an all time low.
I can honestly say that I believe that every single time that I have second guessed my ability to accomplish something, sabotaged myself, given up on a goal or a dream and found myself feeling unworthy of success in my life, it all stems from a feeling of being unworthy and not good enough - low self esteem as a result of being bullied in some form as a young child.
You might think that it is harmless, kids being kids, but you might never realize just how deep of a scar that it can leave. Often the bully is seeking a way to assert their power - they have their own junk and it is never about the victim - but kids don't know that and sadly neither do many adults.
I can also say that I believe the majority of current bullying skills are learned at home. Parents seem to be far more open in front of and with their children than in the past and although that is good in many ways there are also negative consequences associated with that. Every time that you share a piece of gossip or you comment on another person's weight, car, house, clothes, relationship, etc, etc, etc your child is listening. They learn that talking about others, behind their backs, is the socially acceptable norm. And yes it is the norm, but it shouldn't be!
Why is it that we are so insecure in our own lives that we have to spend all of our time and energy talking about others?!?! Bringing them down to build ourselves up! It doesn't work - the negative energy just comes back to us.
This became painfully evident to me in a recent comment from a kindergarten student. The sweet little girl came up to me and said "My, you sure have lost some weight!" I was flabberghasted!!!! The saddest thing being that she thought she was giving me a compliment!
A child at 5 years old is incapable of recognizing such a thing, especially one who sees me every single day! It is obvious that I (and my change of body composition) had been the topic of discussion somewhere in her vacinity. Proving that she is privy to such conversation and thought in her mind that me losing weight was a good thing. And though her intention was sweet and kindhearted to compliment me, it is sad and scary that this is what our young children are learning about body image!!!
Bullying continues into adulthood - gossiping about neighbors, spreading and repeating rumors, even excluding so called friends will continue, as well as ineffective communication, jealousy and lack of focus and drive, which causes people to feel that they must tear others down to feel good.
I just wonder what the world would be like if we harnessed all of that energy and used it to build others up - especially our children!