MOTHER AND DAUGHTER OPEN UP ABOUT BULLYING
(A true story by Holly Kelly and her daughter, Alyssa.)
I was given the opportunity by my publisher to write an article about bullies. Personally, I’ve never been bullied. But I would take being bullied over the experience I have had. I had to find out that my sweet little eight-year-old daughter had been bullied mercilessly throughout the third grade. I was shocked. My daughter was a sweet, cute little girl who made friends easily. I couldn’t fathom kids treating her so cruelly. Looking back, I should have seen the signs. She had enjoyed going to school up until that third grade year. Suddenly she hated school. She would often fake illnesses to get out of going. I thought she was just having a hard time adjusting to a new school. But I would learn it was so much more, and my heart aches that I wasn’t there to protect her.
My daughter has gone through a lot of turmoil and depression because of what happened. She has found what helps the most, is helping others who are being picked on, and talking to people about her experience to teach them about bullying. So instead of me writing her story, I asked if she wanted to tell it herself. She agreed, and immediately sat down and wrote down her story. And here it is in her own words:
I remember my first day of third grade. It was really sunny and all around a perfect day. Well that was until I walked into class. And soon as Chris saw me he must have thought I was an easy target to bully. The first thing he did was spread nasty rumors about me. All the new friends I’d made, suddenly turned their backs on me, even the kids I didn’t know, disliked me. I remember the day I sat down next to my “friends” at lunch. Chris said, “Ugh, its Alyssa.” The entire table looked at me. He got up and everyone else followed and left me alone. It made me feel like I had done something wrong or there was something wrong with me. After this, I must have become a target, because it seemed everyone was mean to me from then on.
The bullying started off bad, but it got worse and worse as the year went on. I always got picked last for teams and no one would play with me at recess. I was really lonely. Every day I would sit in the corner of the foot ball field during recess and hope no one would notice me. One day I got tired of being alone and decided to go play on the play ground. Perhaps I could make just one friend. That was a huge mistake. I climbed to the top of the play ground and was waiting for my turn to go down the slide. That was when a sixth grader walked up to me, looked me right in the eyes, and pushed me off the top of the play ground. I fell six feet on to wood chips. I got the wind knocked out of me, I’m lucky I didn’t break my arm.
After a few weeks of the same thing every day, I didn’t think things could get any worse. But again, I was wrong. I was in the halls with my text books in my arms and some kids knocked all the books out of my hands then pushed me to the ground. Another time some kids picked me up and threw me against a wall. It seemed everyday someone hit me or pushed me. One of the worst times, two sixth graders picked me up threw me against the wall, spit on me, then kicked, and punched me until a teacher stopped them.
The worse thing Chris did is he and two other kids pinned me down and squirted antibacterial lotion in my eye. Little did he know that what he did would affect me for the rest of my life. I’m now legally blind in my left eye. It was because of this, my mom found out. I would have told her sooner, but Chris told me if I told anyone, they would make my life worse than it already was. I believed him. There was only a couple of days until the school year ended so there wasn’t much my mom could do, but she did inform the principle. He didn’t care. He didn’t believe me. He didn’t do anything to help. My mom pulled me out of the school and took me to another school for the rest of my elementary school years.
It’s five years later, and I’ve learned there really isn’t anything wrong with me. I haven’t been bullied since. My mom put me in karate, and has told me to tell her if anyone bullies me again. She said she would take care of it, and I didn’t need to be afraid of what they’d do.
One thing that’s funny, is when I started junior high, Chris started school there too. I grew a lot taller since third grade, and he didn’t grow much. I was about a foot taller than him. Well, he tried to bully me again, and pushed me. I pushed him back, harder, and he slammed into a locker. He’s never bothered me again. ~Alyssa
Yes, it’s me again and I have to say, it’s really painful to know what my daughter was going through. It’s taken her a long time to come to terms with her experiences during her third grade year. She’s struggled with depression, anger, and has had difficulty making friends. After this happened, she was so afraid of being bullied again, she would put a wall up and lash out at anyone who tried to tear it down. One really good friend, many long talks, and a lot of self reflection have helped her come to terms with it. And she’s sad to see that some of the things she did to protect herself in the year or two after third grade were similar to what her bullies did. She was not always nice to everyone. She said she felt if people were afraid of her, they wouldn’t want to mess with her or bully her.
She’s since realized what she did and now she makes a point to be nice to everyone. One thing that’s come of this that makes me proud of her is the fact that she never ignores when another person is being victimized. She actively defends those being bullied—even if they are much bigger than her. In fact, near the beginning of her seventh grade year, I was informed that she stepped between a nearly six-foot-tall ninth grader and a girl he was making fun of. She told him if he didn’t stop, he’d have to deal with her. He was so dumbfounded, he didn’t say a word, but simply left. I put her in karate the next day.
Having had this experience, I have several points of advice to give. First, listen to your children. Watch their behavior. If you see abrupt changes, don’t just pass it off as a phase they’re going through. Be involved. Ask questions, and above all, let your children know if they are being bullied or picked on, that it’s safe to tell you. And if your child tells you they are being bullied. Believe them, AND do something about it. It is our sacred duty as parents to make sure our children are safe. And that leads into my next admonition, if you see a child suffering under the striking hand of a bully, step in. And then let the parents know. My daughter said any number of teachers saw what was going on at different times in different instances. They would step in and tell the offending child to stop. But they did not let me know about it! If I had been told, I could have stopped it sooner. Then perhaps my daughter wouldn’t have suffered permanent damage to her precious eyesight.
I’m so saddened at what happened and I have many regrets, but I can also say that I’m so proud of my daughter. She has not only risen above her experiences, she’d come out a better, stronger young woman because of it. And I’m continuously impressed by her strength of character. Her bully experience has not only been a learning experience for her, but for me, and all those she’s told her story to. She is an example to us all.
(The name of my daughter’s bully has been changed to protect his identity.)
ABOUT HOLLY KELLY:
Holly Kelly is a mom who writes books in her spare time: translation–She hides in the bathroom with her laptop and locks the door while the kids destroy the house and smear peanut butter on the walls.
Holly was born in Utah but lived in Salina, Kansas until she was 13 and in Garland, Texas until she was 18. She’s now back in Utah–“happy valley”. Holly is married to her wonderful husband, James, and the two of them are currently raising 6 rambunctious children. Her interests are reading, writing (or course), martial arts, visual arts, and spending time with family.
Holly Kelly’s first published book is: Rising. Rising was published by Clean Teen Publishing on September 6, 2013.
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