One Small Act This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

November 19, 2012
By , Chicago, IL
Imagine as a mother walking tenderly up the stairs, afraid to look inside her son’s room. Having seen the bruises that he came home with and remembering how scared he was to go to school, her hands begin to tremble. She opens the door and falls to her knees as she sees a lifeless body dangling from the ceiling. The twelve year old boy had now become part of a suicide statistic. He became a suicide victim because of bullying. No one took the blame. His teachers said they never noticed, his parents thought it was just rough play, and his peers never decided to act. Whether one chooses to acknowledge it or not, it doesn’t change the fact that bullying exists. Everyone asks, “Will it ever end?” but not everyone questions “Have I ever done anything to end it?” When it comes to bullying, bystanders can do so much more than just choosing to look the other way.

I remember the first time I saw bullying happen; it was in fifth grade. Back then, I did not know it was called bullying; all I knew was that it was wrong. The victim’s name was Jessie and the bully was Eliza. I do not know why, and I do not know when it started happening, all I know is that Jessie was the unlucky one that got chosen to be the victim. At first it started with name calling then it escalated to “accidental” bumping. Later when the teachers weren’t looking they would throw paper balls at her and would sometimes steal her seat in lunch. Within a heartbeat, Eliza had managed to isolate her from the rest of class. Even at that age people were only looking out for themselves.

Jessie’s world was turned upside down in a single year. I used to see the pain that caused her to be called ugly and a loser. Saw how she never smiled and was always glum. I saw how much it hurt her when no one talked to her or sat by her. On many occasions I also saw her close to tears, but I never saw her shed a single one. That defiance soon became to waver as she saw that no one came to her aid. Whenever she was bullied, she would always scan the room in search for someone to help her. I also did the same, but no one ever did anything. That year I learned that if one expected others to act first, those same people expected the same but from you.

My godmother was the one that shedded light to the whole situation. She told me something that I will never forget. She told me that, “A small act can always make a big difference in someone’s life.” It took me a long time to act, but I finally did. Me and my friend decided to befriend Jessie. My godmother had been right. After Jessie counted with friends, she became happier and Eliza’s insults stung less. In fact we used to laugh at her insults as we found clever ways to retort back. Something that bothered Eliza a lot.

Once Eliza saw she had no effect on Jessie anymore, she stopped bothering her. By the end of the year, Jessie had gotten her life back and was able to start from square one again. Seeing Jessie gain her confidence back made me feel that I had actually made a difference.

It’s easy to look the other way and say that, “I couldn’t do anything to help.” Yet the truth remains that there was a lot more that you could’ve done. You don’t necessarily have to face a bully one on one, or do something drastic sometimes all it takes is a friend. Being someone that the victim can rely on sends a message to both the bully and the victim, that they are not alone. Remember that a bully creates the suffering, the victim creates the tears, and a bystander allows both these creations to continue. In order to stop bullying all it takes is one small act.

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