Bullying in school is not an issue of just kids being kids
During Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign, the issue of his involvement in bullying fellow students in school has been raised by commentators. However, some of his supporters have tried to downplay the importance of Romney’s behavior in his school days, compared to today.
The issue of bullying in school has come to attention in recent years in the wake of school shootings, including Columbine High School in 1999.
While some people will say “kids will be kids” or that the victim can get over it quickly and “man up,” none of that is true. Bullying, in fact, can have long-lasting effects on victims, scarring them for life or even leading to suicide.
I can attest to that from my own life experience with school bullying.
I was born with craniofacial deformities. I have always looked a lot different from others. People unfortunately tend to judge others based on their external appearance. This is especially true of children, who can be unbelievably cruel to children who look the least bit different.
All through my childhood, I attended a variety of schools — public and parochial. I was kept out of classes by teachers who felt they could not handle my unique challenges (my deafness due to lack of ears, my cleft palate speech problems and my autism).
The worst part of my school years was junior high in my local public school district. There, for two years, I was subjected to endless, merciless taunting, teasing, physical abuse and even threats of harm or death.
One time, my younger sister (also attending the school system at the time) saw some kids backing me up against a wall of lockers in the hall. Most of the teachers felt bad for me, but they could do little for me.
I quickly grew afraid to be in school each day. I learned to bury all my feelings inside me just to survive, so I became cold and hard on the outside, just going through the motions of life. I could no longer feel anything or relate to anyone; I was one of the living dead. It was a living hell.
My parents had no idea what was really going on as I hid everything inside. It even affected me physically and spiritually. I felt totally alone. Only God carried me through it. It was not until I transferred to Canterbury School for high school (where I encountered acceptance for the first time), that I started on the years-long road to recovery.
From my own experience with years of bullying in school, I can definitely tell you that bullying scars children for a long time, if not for life, and it is a very serious problem in all kinds of schools. It cannot be excused or sneezed at; it needs to be taken on by the horns and dealt with.