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Review of "How I Changed for the Better"

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Jonathan Dow’s article “How I Changed for the Better” in the October issue of Teen Ink is about bullying and its affect on teenagers. In his piece, he described a presentation to ward off bullying that he was very reluctant to attend, for he’d end up missing his precious study hall period. However, as he listened to Mr. Halligan, the father of a boy who committed bullycide (the act of committing suicide as a result of bullying), speak, he became intrigued and looked inside himself to remember all the nasty comments or actions he did to hurt others, intentionally or not. Jonathan came to the realization that he’s cause pain in others and if he continues, one day he may hear of someone he knew committing bullycide. He believes truly that the 150 minutes spent in the auditorium listening to Mr. Halligan speak of his son and the events that took place changed Jonathan’s heart, and he will try harder not to get his joy from others’ pain.
This article really struck a chord for me. I’ve been on both sides of the bullying line, and I also understand how each can have its catastrophic events. Don’t get me wrong, I have never intentionally bullied others, but I often tease and poke at their feelings in order to have a feeling of domination. Bullies do the same, even going farther than verbal abuse and into physical, but I don’t consider myself a bully. Unfortunately, I know what it’s like to be bullied. Rumors spread around school that bring me to my knees, teasing hits my nerves like a bullet, and words cut like a knife. Never once have I been physically bullied, and for that I consider myself lucky; however, from my experiences, I wonder every day if the verbal abuse I’ve received is much worse than anything anyone can hit me with or throw at me. Physical wounds can heal, though some may leave scars, but every harsh, cruel, raw word spilled from a bully’s mouth can hurt just as badly if not worse than a broken bone or black eye, leaving permanent emotional scars on even the purest, unmarked soul. Words have the effect of bouncing around in one’s mind, nagging at their fears and weaknesses until they start beating themselves up from the inside out. These people look normal on the outside, fake a smile or laugh, but on the inside, they are raw and empty. On the inside, they think of unspeakable things, too taboo to converse about. On the inside, they are broken and empty, a black hole widening with every smart remark from others. On the inside, they hold dark secrets that no one dares ask about. True enough, bullies aren’t always the cause of distress for these types of people, but ridding the world of bullies would be a large step towards the health and happiness for many people. This boy speaks intelligent words, but I do hope he plans on keeping this experience in the back of his mind for the next time he feels he needs to tease someone. It could be the last straw before someone’s emotional dam breaks.





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