Shame By Another Name

Bullying is like sex trafficking; it is the pariah of conversation and a carefully avoided subject, but you know it when you see it. The internally bruised student, afraid to come to school may not be so different from the kidnapped and enslaved young woman. Despite the rudimentary differences in their sufferings, there is one key element that both are battling; they live in shame.
You could say that bullying is the product of other adolescent’s feelings of inadequacy or their need to feel superior but the simple truth is that bullying is the outcome of today’s teenager’s lack of empathy for one another. I have felt just as insecure and inferior as any of my fellow high school counterparts but the reason I have never bullied another student is as simple as the reason some people do. I know that cruelty doesn’t solve anything. As in the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Just as hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”
My experiences with bullying range from racist comments about my immigrant parents to derogatory remarks about the back brace I wore to school for three years. I can remember being about six or seven and having older students tell me they were going to deport my parents, my teacher, never doing a thing to stop the taunting. Now, as a fifteen year old who understands what deportation even means, I like to think that I could stand up to them now, but the naïve, younger version of myself had no way to defend herself and that is something that cannot be ignored.
Today, it’s been over two years since I stopped wearing a brace and eight years since I saw the students who made me fear my own school. Had I known then, what I know now about the consequences bullying has had on so many other children, I would never have allowed anyone to treat me in the manner that they did but the first school seminar on bullying wasn’t held until I was in 8th grade and by that time, I’d faced bullying more times than could remember – or wanted to for that matter. The end of bullying will be the product of earlier exposure to information on what constitutes on bullying and how to face it. Because as a six year old, when I was battling bullying the most was when I least understood what it was. Today, all I can think is ‘give me a way back in time, a chance to stand up to those who bullied me, and get out of my way.’





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