The Innocent Face of Terrorism
I was sitting in seventh grade Spanish class when the girl next to me tried to poison me. Chuckling, she broke her Adderall into pieces and attempted to shove the chemical crumbs into my mouth. There I was, a shy teen with stringy muscles and serious dental hardware, flailing my arms against a girl named Hercules. The tiny white pellets littered my body–how was no one seeing this? Stopping it? Saying something? After the medical waste was emptied and their innards sprinkled my body, she turned to the front of the class, smiling with satisfaction.
“What just happened??” I thought, bewildered by this attack. It seemed somehow different from the others I’d endured. Never before had someone tried to shove something into me. They hadn’t even tried to shove me into something. For me, it was typically only verbal abuse. Like the time a boy approached me on the basketball court and told me all the reasons why my gender was an issue of suspicion to the rest of my classmates.
“Most people think you’re a guy,” he mentioned casually, as though that could surely be possible.
“Well, most people would be wrong then,” was all I could muster before I walked away.
That same year, the PE class was coming back from an outside session and a different guy–in an attempt to evaluate my femininity–was appalled that I would turn down his hypothetical offer to “eat me out”.
“You mean, if I offered to eat you out right now, you wouldn’t let me?” he asked as we stood outside the metal gym doors, waiting for the teacher.
“No, I wouldn’t.”
“She’s definitely a dude!” he said as he laughed and backhanded his buddy in the chest. Then the teacher came and allowed us to go into the gym, completely unaware of the conversation that took place moments before.
How far would these kids go? Why did they choose to bully people in the first place? I didn’t have the answers to these questions. Nor do I have all the answers now. But I do know that bullying, in its truest sense, is merely discrimination that occurs at younger ages. The words are interchangeable: discrimination in the workplace is bullying. Bullying at school is discrimination. They are both the act of isolating someone because of his or her differences. So, where do we learn bullying? It makes sense that kids see adults “bullying” each other–perhaps the father disrespects the mother, perhaps both parents neglect the child. If that’s the case, who is really the victim? Although it is difficult to side with the bully and understand their point of view, it is necessary to consider that they learned these tactics somehow, somewhere.
Who here has experienced bullying in some way, shape, or form? Please take a moment to participate in this poll so we can see how prevalent bullying can truly be:
As it seems, bullying and discrimination are a huge issue. They were problematic years ago and it seems as though the danger is rising. Unfortunately, in order to get the message to the public, someone has to be the victim. In most recent news, Karen Huff Klein, a 68-year-old bus monitor served as the primary example. If you haven’t seen or heard Karen’s story, I have posted the link below (“Karen Huff Klein & The School Bus Bullies”). As I watched the footage, I couldn’t help but wonder: what would I have done if I were in her position? How would I have responded if I was another student on that bus? If I was in Karen’s position, would I have stood up for myself like I did as a child? Would I retaliate? Or would I admit that I’m sorry for them–sorry that no one has ever shown or taught them that they could be better than that?
So, as you watch Karen’s experience–or perhaps reflect upon your own–I’d like you to consider one thing: how far would you go to make bullying stop?
Also, below is a Public Service Announcement that I created for this particular purpose. Check it out and stand with me against bullying!