Think Before You Bully (for National Bullying Awareness Month)

The boy next to you is hiding his eyes behind his glasses again. He has his headphones in so he can’t hear the voices of his peers. Not today. Just one more mocking remark and he might break.  His parents are fighting again and his sick grandmother is back in the hospital. He’s having a hard time focusing and his ADHD isn’t helping at all. He forgot to take his medicine this morning and his foot is rapidly tapping against the leg of his chair. You look at the people around him and you can see it in their eyes, you can see how they’re judging him; for his hair, for his clothes, for the way he looks down at his desk.

What do you do?

The hockey player next to him yanks out his headphones and girl behind him laughs.

Do you fall into the pressure to fit in and judge him too?

Her laughter rings through his ears. His face turns bright red and shrinks into his seat, leaving his headphones dangling from his neck.

No, you’re better than that. So do something. Stand up and do something.

We’ve all hear the stories, about the kids who have been bullied to the point of suicide. So why doesn’t that stop us? Why is bullying still a problem? As humans, we naturally have the desire to bring people down to make ourselves feel higher, whether we realize that we’re doing it or not. When you make fun of someone or talk badly about them, do you ever really think that something devastating is happening in their life outside of school, or that maybe they have some kind of disorder? Millions of kids are suffering from this harassment and the saddest part of it is, is that they can’t help who they are. They know they’re different but they can’t change it.

Every year, one out of ten students drops out of school because they have repeatedly been bullied. Fifteen percent of all school absenteeism is directly related to fears of being bullied at school. Maybe you can be the one to change that. Be a friend to the new girl, invite the kid eating alone to sit with you at lunch, be partners with the boy that always works alone. It only takes one person to make a difference.

You stand up and walk over to the desk next to the boy with the headphones and glasses. You can feel everyone’s eyes on you. The girl’s laughter has stopped and the boy’s headphones are back in his ears and his eyes are boring into his desk. You sit down and give him a genuine smile. He smiles back at you, a nervous, sad smile. But your hello assures him that he’s made a friend. For the rest of the year, you sit next to him and make conversation. You invite him to hang out with you and your friends. You realize that there’s more to him than just his glasses and his headphones, that he’s actually really personable and humorous. Soon he forgets about his parents’ quarrels and his grandmother’s hospital bills. He forgets about his dad’s gun and his mom’s pills.

Congratulations, you just saved his life.

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