Most people, at one time have been bullied. Some people shrug it off, learn the lessons and move on. The strongest ones use those bullies as inspiration to do what they want to do with their lives. Unfortunately, that doesn't always happen and young girls like Amanda Todd end their lives to end their misery.
I was one bullied in high school. I went to a school that was a 45 minute bus ride from my house. The kids who I had known since elementary, who I knew, went to a school closer to my home that I wanted to go. I panicked and the bullies pounced, seeing I was fresh meat at the watering hole ready to be destroyed.
I was called every name in the book, my locker was vandalized, but I did nothing. I simply tried to ignore it all. Every day in the first half of my freshmen year I was reminded what the kids thought of me, and those thoughts weren't nice ones. Eventually, magically, they stopped bullying me, and ended up ignoring me. It was a nice trade off, but my mind, my thoughts and my future were already damaged.
I was living just to just survive another day. My grades would have been better if I had more motivation, but I didn't think of a future. I thought of ways to kill myself, as I felt more and more how useless my life was, and how bleak my future looked.
It was at that time I started to write. Writing was my only escape. The pen acted as my voice, and the paper was my psychiatrist. I came home, and when straight to my room to vent and write. I only stopped when it was time to eat supper. I barely did any homework and my grades reflected that.
Those five years, (I went back after graduation to take a few courses) stuck with me far too long. I had no motivation, didn't get my first job until I was 20. What I thought high school would be, first loves, a bunch of parties, and life long friends, didn't happen, and I was full of regret, shame, and anger.
If I was who I wanted to be in high school, I would be a 28-year-old journalist, not a 28-year-old journalism student. I would have a family, a good job, and quite possibly I wouldn't be fighting depression every day of my life.
Bullying set forth a path in my life that was a vicious circle of nothingness. There were no street signs or monuments. I was completely lost. Although I am just starting to release the anger, and the loss, I know how lucky I am. When I was in high school, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube didn't exist. If it did, I doubt I'd still be here.
I had an escape. Although the depression, the shyness, and the isolation existed outside of school, I was able to put the bullying in the back of my head. When I was home, I was safe, unlike Amanda Todd.
When I was in school, few - if any - anti-bullying commercials existed. Teachers and principals ignored it. I saw other kids being bullied in front of teachers, who did nothing. Now some schools have anti-bullying programs, and we now have PSA's that discourage bullying. But bullying still exists and it is becoming more ferocious. Bullied kids are told on Facebook to kill themselves, YouTube videos are made to spread rumours about kids.
Bullied kids can be the product of terrible parents or parents who are loving but are silent when it comes to their kids' problems. I believe parents tend to think, "He's a kid, he is just going through a phase." That may be true, but it may also be a sign that your bullied child is planning his or her suicide.
Here is what I think children and parents should do in cases of bullying. Kids should defend themselves with words. Bullying stops when people defend themselves using wit, using strong, but calm words. If that doesn't work, talk to a parent or teacher. If you are still not taken seriously, consider standing up to the bully physically, but only as a last resort. I did none of this and I regret it. I didn't use wit and I didn't stand my ground. I should have. Instead of ignoring it, and allowing the words to eat me alive, I should have done something.
Parents should teach their kids kindness and respect. If your kid is getting bullied, talk to your child, and then march down to your kids school and talk to the principal and demand action. Principals should have a no tolerance policy, and suspend the bullies. If it doesn't stop, kick him or her out of school.
One morning show host suggested that Facebook should charge its users two bucks, and watch over these profiles. I agree. Maybe Facebook should be free for adults, but $2 for kids under 18. That money could go to anti-bullying charities, and their profiles should be watched. If they bully someone, call the cops and ban them from Facebook.
Something has to be done. Social networking sites shouldn't be havens for bullies. Parents should pay attention to their kids. Principals should wake the hell up and punish bullies.
Amanda Todd should still be alive. She could have become a college grad, a wife, a mother, or anything she wanted to be. And now she is in a grave because no one takes bullying seriously. Parents, and schools should wake the hell up, and bullies should be put in their place.
Are you in crisis? Need help? In Canada, find links and numbers to 24-hour suicide crisis lines in your province here.
A Facebook post from <a href="https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151108737498527&set=pb.245559443526.-2207520000.1349995284&type=1&theater">G Force Gym - Home of the Vancouver All Stars</a>: "Today we feel the loss of our former VAS family member Amanda... I ask that we all watch her video and share her story so that her loss is not in vain. Allow this to be her legacy... Allow us all to look around & find the next Amanda before another precious spunky teenager is lost. We have a responsibility today... Is there a kid in your school that made a mistake and is being shunned? Your challenge is to be a LEADER ... Be the Game Changers you are and sit with them today... reach out... smile... let them know that they are NOT alone in this harsh world. It's always EASY to do the EASY thing; we teach you to NOT do what is easy and instead, do what is right!! You will be surprised, how many people will follow YOU when you stick up for what is Right and honorable AND, forgiving those that have made mistakes in their YOUTH is the RIGHT thing to do!! Please share Amands's Story... SHARE IT & LIVE IT!"
Follow Benjamin Morris on Twitter: www.twitter.com/IaMBen_Morris