Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Bullying And Afterwards


Barbara: A friend of ours showed us this unbelievable video of a speech given by a young, unknown (at the time) girl, just 18-years-old, who had never given a speech before this one. Now Molly Burke is a full-time speaker for Me to We, a school-focused initiative developed by Free the Children. The program encourages today’s young people to work toward peace and goodness the world over. Molly brings a uniquely young and current perspective to many issues facing youth, including bullying, mental health and overcoming adversity.

I knew I had to share the video with you here, especially in light of the terrible spate of suicides of bullied children making the news lately. Instead of focusing on the wrongs of the world, I prefer to post pieces that focus on what’s right. And Molly, a victim of bullying, shows us exactly that. That hope and courage (and time!) can overcome the worst.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t embed the video into our blog: the video is here. If you want to see Molly, she begins at the 2:15 mark. But here’s the most amazing part—the part you don’t want to miss, the part that will blow you away, happens around the 5-minute mark.

Have you overcome bullying in your past? If so, what was the solution? In my case, it was time. After I was groped by a group of boys in my high school hallway and verbally tormented for the rest of that school year, I found my escape in the drama department. Then I rediscovered my self-confidence, and then the next year, the furor had died down and it seemed that I had been forgotten as a target. Conversely, there is also the question of the bully. Speaking with a friend yesterday, she told me that a close friend of hers—a kind, decent, loving, sensitive, compassionate woman—had been, in her own words, a “terrible bully" in her teens. Makes you think, doesn’t it?

34 comments:

  1. OMG!!! After 5 MIN MARK..is......JUST.....I dunno what to say...I just..dont.

    Yep! Been bullied...(lot of times by my own cousins!) I know how it feels.....I have just recently realized that we cannot change that person...whoever bullied us. And we cant change what happened. And dragging that wherever we go just makes us feel bad. I think just forgiving them works. And when I say forgiving I mean letting it go. Setting US free because that memory or that person is not worth anything in our lives. And in the same time helping the ones who HAVE been through a similar thing.

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    1. I do think bullies can change -- witness how many teen bullies grow up to be self-aware, compassionate adults. That said, I totally agree that the torment evoked by them in the victims can only be overcome with the victim's own journey to healing. Victims rarely want to face their early tormentors. Nor should they need to! Thanks, S! so great.

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  2. Yes,diffently been bullied. When I was in elementry school and in middle school I was called all by myself. Because I was so pale and still am so pale I would get called all kinds of names like Casper,or ghost. I hated being called those names. I would go home and just lock my self in my room because I would get picked on so much. Now that I am totally out school, I think back to all those kids who picked on me and in high school if I would get called that I would make a joke out of it and tell them that I was not white and pale I was creamey Vanilla,and if they called me casper at least I was famous so hey I will take it.

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    1. Creamy and vanilla is lovely and beautiful. Glad you're owning it now, Lyndsie! And your experience just emphasizes that we can outgrow our feelings of unworthiness (and putting too much store in what other people think...) So proud of you!

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  3. What a powerful message. Molly is amazing. Loved this video. Am sharing it.

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  4. Hoo boy. I'm told I was a bully to my younger siblings and their friends. I think they're still a little afraid of me and don't trust the older, wiser, gentler person they see in front of them! I'm kind of ashamed, still, to have behaved as I did, not knowing better at the time, but even so.

    The bullying I see now, in my personal life, masquerades as superior self-righteous entitlement. The person who practises it doesn't recognize it as bullying, but is chagrined when it is pointed out. I think this is often the case: when we are bullies, we aren't aware of what we are doing, or in control of ourselves, and so we are desperate to control others and the world around us, to make some impact. Bullies are the ones who are weak and hoping no one will notice they aren't wearing any clothes.

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    1. Ha! Actually, I quite forgot to look at my cruel actions vis a vis my adorable younger sisters (who I love madly, now and then). Yeah, there were a few occasions of, hmmm, staples put on the floor to keep them away and, um, drawings of bloody knives on my door meant to scare them away. Yeah, me too... That said, I think your overview of what controls a bully is brilliant.

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  5. Wow Loved that even before the 5 min mark. But her surprise made it all the better. I think I am gonign to stay in a happy mood for a while from watching that video. : )
    I found that a way to deal with the people bullying me was music, tattoos, and one teacher at my high school. I was way too shy to admit to my teacher that he was the only reason I stayed in high school and came back every day. But I did buy him a card and a gift on the last day of school. Love that this video thanked the schools and teachers for helping the kids. A good teacher can do wonders for a srtuggling child.

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    1. We've talked a bit here about bad teachers making lasting impressions, but it's so so so true that that one amazing teacher can make all the difference in the world. Thanks for reminding us of that here. And kudos for getting over and beyond the ickiness so rampant in the high school dynamic!

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  6. Powerful video! Did you see this in the news today? http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/victimized-children-much-more-likely-to-think-about-suicide-study-suggests-1.1006701

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    1. Thanks for sharing this, fg!! I did not see it, and it is so apropos. Do we need to talk more about what makes a bully and how to shift that???

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    2. My opinion is that you cannot combat bullying when children spend most of their day in peer groups, without consistent guidance on how to treat others. I'm not criticizing schools, because I don't think they can teach kindness and compassion and still cover reading and math, but I don't think a rally at the beginning of the school year changes group dynamics.

      I think parents need to stop thinking of bullying as normal childhood behavior. They need to stop looking at their child's grades and popularity and athletic prowess as proof of being well adjusted, and start looking at whether or not their child is respectful and kind towards others. They need to seriously consider the fact that any child can be a bully, given the right circumstances.

      They need to prepare their child to stand up and do what is right even though it will cost them because it will. As much as we want to think that if one child stands up to a bully, others will rally to their righteous side, that doesn't usually happen. We need to be honest and say, "If you stand up for someone being bullied, yes, some people will hate you. Do it anyway, because it is the right thing to do." When enough people do that, things will change, but don't lead children to believe it will be easy.

      And lead by example! Don't trash talk your coworkers, boss, siblings, churchmates, teammates, neighbors, or even the celebrities on tv. Don't teach your child that life is all about building yourself up by putting others down.

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    3. Brilliant blog post right here, fg! Absolutely stunning. Thanks for writing this. I wish we could send it around as a mandate on how to deal with bullying -- to every single child, their parents and their schools.

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  7. This just sent a chill down my spine. She is such a beautiful girl who was terribly victimized by cruel people. What an amazing young woman!!! WOW.

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  8. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCOctober 23, 2012 at 12:12 PM

    This video was great. I agree with Kelly, I think I simply have to be in a good mood all day, out of respect to it.

    I had the crap bullied out of me through elementary school. It was bizarre, because it was so unanimous amongst the kids, and for no specific reason; just an overall hating me because...I existed? When I got older I understood that it was just that I was really different, mentally. I just saw the world, and thought, and spoke ''differently'' and that is never really acceptable to children (who are we kidding, to most people), is it? It challenges life too much if they cannot understand one of their peers, and the unknown brings this fear, which brings this mob mentality to create such an evil atmosphere.
    long sad story short, The bullying climaxed on a field trip when two kids sitting behind me in the van on the ride back from wherever the class had been taken, started pulling on my seat belt to bother me the whole ride. I did what I was pretty good at doing-- ignored them. Then they choked me with it...
    ...Then we moved...
    The bright side of that story, is that it was just before halloween (spooky...) and the seat belt had left a giant scar on my neck, BUT I WAS GOING AS A ZOMBIE! My costume looked sooo authentic :D

    What saved me through that truly miserable time, was my family. My family, and my imagination. My family is amazing. They never treated me like a "special child" in any way, to make it an issue in our house like "this our daughter, the one who gets bullied" so it wasn't my entire life, or my entire day-- it wasn't even my entire label as a person. Yes, I'd come home crying, and miserable, and confused, and "but WHY do they hate me?"-ing a lot, but after they kissed me, and told me the best things they could, they also moved on from it. We played games in our house. I wasn't allowed to stay in my room all day, or be excused from chores because I was "sad". My brother was always great to me, and when we'd travel to Iran, my extended family loved me and treated me like I was someone amazing. My parents took to me to swimming lessons in the next district, where none of the kids went to my school, and their I was accepted and liked. My imagination allowed to be thoroughly entertained without friends, and I mean this genuinely; had I not been able to think interesting things to make the day go by, it would have been so much harder.
    In this way, there was balance. And as awful as it was, and as much I would not want any child to go through what I did as horrifically, it really did set me up to be someone I am proud to be. High school was nothing after elementary school. I literally felt like the things everyone else was going through, the identity war, the peer pressure war, the adolescent war, if you will-- I'd just gone through it. And heck, I'd won. I wasn't bullied anymore because I was too comfortable with myself for the bullying to be any fun, I think (It's really deflated trying to bully someone who is looking at you like you're ridiculous). I didn't fit in, but I couldn't be forced out anymore, either. It wasn't until university that I found like-minded peers, and felt like i belonged, but I always appreciate that all those bullies made me hella strong.



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    1. Absolutely brought tears to my eyes, Souzan. Powerful example of owning yourself and triumphing over adversity. I think your saving graces are magnificent -- and so very grateful that you not only had them but appreciated them! Those early years are so trecherous -- it's like the undeveloped sides of our brains often go to primitive reactions first. Thankfully, you knew all this and survived it. Thanking you from the bottom of my heart for sharing! xoxo

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    2. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCOctober 23, 2012 at 7:10 PM

      Thank you, Barb, that is so kind of you :) I thank you, and Deb, and all the wonderful people here for creating such an easy place to share.

      xo

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  9. My families disablities really set my brother and I apart as kids and so we were bullied quite a bit. When I was younger I tried a bunch of different ways to deal with it but as I got older I just got sick of it and started fighting back. In my town we went to the local elementary up to grade 8 then onto highschool in a neighboring town which served all the communities in the region for grades 9-12. During the summer between grade 8 and 9 there was an incident that really determined how I ended up dealing with it for the rest of my school years.
    My brother and I were chased from the park by a group of boys who began throwing rocks at us. One of the rocks hit a metal piece on the headrest of my brothers wheelchair. That ting sound the rock made hitting his chair set me off. I turned around and ended up beating the crap out of the kid who not only was the one who threw the rock but had always been my primary tormentor. He left me and my brother alone after that as did his friends.
    I do wish there had been a resolution less violent but even all these years I'm not ashamed I did it. He threw a rock at the head of a kid in a wheelchair and I still can't help but feel somewhat justified in my response. This was a turning point in my life though, it was the moment I decided I was done being a victim.
    This didn't of course solve all my problems and it led to me making a few poor choices once high school started. I still wasn't very confident and because I was trying to act tough I quickly fell in with the rougher crowd in my school. I was smoking at 13 and experimenting with drinking and drugs by the time I was 15. Just a side note, this was rural manitoba we weren't all that tough and by drugs I mean pot.
    Thankfully I have a naturally long fuse and so there were very few fights beyond that first one and I never fought just for the sake of fighting but I refused to back down. I suppose I was forced into finding confidence in myself by deciding to fight back and over time I learnt how to do it without resorting to hitting people. I started to have faith in myself and started making better choices. I guess I just needed time to get there.
    By my senior year I'd "settled down" and I had actually found some real self-confidence. I'd found a few good friendships, I no longer had suicidal thoughts and I'd stopped messing around with drugs and drinking, although it took much longer to finally stop smoking for good and I still crave the damn things. I guess I finally figured out how to really move on.
    I've also been able to forgive those who once bullied me, they made mistakes as kids and so did I. In fact by the time I graduated there were no more hard feelings on either side. In fact at our grad the kid who threw the rock came over to me and joked that he had deserved to get beaten up by a girl and we ended up wishing each other luck.
    It's not something I'm terribly proud of but I still can't see how I would have gotten through my school years any other way. I learnt how to persevere and in the end it's served me well and made me a stronger person, for real not just pretend.

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    1. Wow, Erin. I actually think this is why so many decent parents actually advocate that their kids "fight back" -- because, ideally, fighting has a chance of working. I'm truly glad you found a way to manage your situation. Funnily, I think part of the bullying mentality comes from a very base and primitive (and subconscious) need to expel the weakest from the herd, as is so common in packs. Even some Inuit tribes (as we spoke about earlier) had their disabled elders walk out into the cold alone so they could die and not hold back the others. Maybe this is why so many people bully -- to root out weakness. By showing strength, the fight-backers often show they are NOT a weak link. I do think the primitive part of this urge is reflected in the fact that it's hormonal youngsters who are the worst perpetrators. And why it's possible to "grow out of". Although, sadly, many people do not. But they're not as highly evolved, right :) Now how to wean kids off the urge...

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    2. Souzan Rezai from Vancouver, BCOctober 23, 2012 at 7:07 PM

      I'm sorry you had to go through so much difficulty, Erin. I completely understand your not feeling shame for how you handled the situation at the time, and at the age. Frankly, it's a rational response to the pattern you'd seen: what you had been doing hadn't been altering the outcome of the situations, trying a drastic response that the other would kids would recognize makes sense. You spoke in the same language they were using, and it worked in a certain way! I can see why some parents would advocate "fighting back" in these situations. I'm so glad you got through it a stronger person :)
      -Souz

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  11. This video was shocking to say the least. Also, i have experienced bullying in my life and i have bullied before. I regret ever bullying, but i didn't do it directly...it was more like friends talking bad about others as jokes behind their backs. However, after i experienced a form of bullying i realized its is terrible in any form, i stopped immediately. This made me stop myself and try to stop others from bullying in any form whenever i could.

    Also, when i was a kid i was really mean to my sister; i was just a terrible brother, but once i was around ten(Took my time right)I realized how terrible what i was doing to her was. This along with the form of bullying i experienced made me who i am today! As of today i hate any form of bullying, i want equal rights, i don't swear by choice, most likely wont drink, will never do any form of drugs, love all forms of life and my sister says i'm the best big brother :).

    Bullying has shaped my life to what it is today...and although i regret what i did to my sister and the others, Aka whoever i ever made feel bad, I know that it has made me the amazing person i am today.
    P.S. I'm friends with everyone in my school and i have 0 enemies :)

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    1. Garrett, what an amazing perspective! I absolutely love this! As I think many gracious and loving people have experienced some form of both sides of the spectrum (maybe even without consciously thinking of it: ie, we've talked a bunch in here about remembering our younger selves bullying our siblings; and certainly, sooooo many people have experienced some form of being bullied), it's interesting to ponder that this spectrum does make us into who we are. Through these immature experiences we (can, ideally) get in touch with our own humanity. Fascinating! Thank you!

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    2. Good for you Garrett!

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  12. I see a hint of cultural difference here (with here I mean the video). I was popular in first two schools (I easily make friends and it was elementary school). Then we moved up north (about 1000 km away, which is very long distance in this country) and I became the freak who spoke funnily. There were some bullying, but I already knew to ignore it. Now about the cultural difference. I had to use crutches when I was in my teens (14 I guess) and the time I used them I was one of the popular ones. Just because everyone wanted to borrow them and try how it feels not to be walking. No-one dared to brake anything. Well school provided taxi to pick us up from home (not enough kids for bus) and one kid from the ride didn't belive that my ankle was twisted and he crawlled underneath the bench and squeesed my ankle. I screamed and tried to claw his head and broke a nail... He was 12 I think. Not for nothing though, we were (my sister and I) taken home first :) Usually we were the last to be dropped off because we were the last to be picked up in the morning.

    We did have this one case where a young famous person used her influence to stop bullying (took part in a campaign to stop bullying) and was bullied herself because of it. I am sad to say that that story did not have a happy ending.

    I have talked about bullying with few friends that I have, and they all agree that it was kind of systematic in that town where we lived. You had to have relatives there or your parents needed to be in high ranking position. Otherwise you got bullied. I have already decided that if I can avoid it, I am never going back there. For some reason my mother really loves it there, oh well that doesn't change my mind a bit.

    I do have to say that I wasn't bullied badly (my sister ones had pins in her shoes) but I think that it is because I have this "aura" that I will fight back. Even my sister knows to use me as a threat if needed (bullies or our mother, it always has the same effect). I remember being a small child and stopped my schoolmates from bullying one of our other classmate. I remember saying that this is wrong and I will be defend him. He obviously didn't like that girl would rescue him. I also heard "you like him" comments for a while. But I didn't mind it, as they stopped bullying.

    I hope I haven't bullied anyone. I am sure I have, as sometimes the bullies don't see that they did something wrong. It's just that what they do makes them feel better, like saying something that first is laughed off but when you are alone it haunts you. Of course there then are these that you actually do something like in the video. For that I can say I have never done so (unless my memory fails me that badly). (Does it count me and my sister fought a lot and by a lot I mean A LOT.)

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    1. Obviously I won't be able to say whether you did bully or not, but I do know that many bullies (especially young adolescent ones) don't see what they're doing. They are even righteous about it. Maybe that's why campaigns like these are important, because they raise that consciousness. Even if it doesn't raise everyone's, it might raise some, and then maybe you won't have so many people crowding around the victim, egging the bully on, or ignoring her actions... (and you, like me, are now very close to your sister, so that's good!)

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    2. My sister says that we were just practicing for life :) So I guess I have her word that I didn't bully her. Yes I agree that more campaigns are needed. I also think that we need to educate the parents, so that the no bullying principle can start from home. I think my sister is doing well, because she asks my niece to think how it would feel if someone did that to her (that being something that she has done or has asked if she can do it). :)

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    3. I think the whole sibling dynamic is ripe for this kind of "fighting" that maybe doesn't mean anything in the long run (gladly, doesn't in your case!). I love your sister's response too. A keeper!

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  13. I myself was not a victim I kept to myself and I think at a different time I might have been because I was different. But I watched my son go through it most of his high school years. As I mentioned before he has Aspbergers and although he was eventually put in a regular classroom, they would pull him out of class for speech, occupational and counseling. Well it was obvious to the other kids and he was quickly labeled "the retard". For years I didn't know it was happening and then when I did the school did nothing about it. Their response was always if we don't see it happening there's nothing we can do about it. My daughter Amanda was finally witness to it one day and she went after the kid and confronted him and threatened him in the hallway. Apparently he was calling Ricky a little bitch all the time. My five foot one daughter got in this kids face and backed him against a locker with a handful of her friends who were all seniors like her and said "Who's a little bitch? You bother my brother one more time it will be the last fucking thing you ever do." I did not know about this incident until after they had both graduated but it makes me smile that she did that for her little brother.

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  14. Part two

    Once Amanda graduated the bullying escalated for Ricky. It was mainly one kids as I said before and one day the other kids pressured Ricky to kick his ass as they put it. They had a secret confrontation above the soccer field off school grounds. Ricky threw one punch and the kid dropped like a rock, Ricky put up his hands and said "It's over no more" and walked away. As soon as he turned his back Travis tackled him. He was pulled off by the other kids there and one of them put Travis in his car and told him to go home. Sadly Ricky suddenly had the respect of the other kids. Sadly the bullying at school got worse because Travis enlisted the help of a friend to torment Ricky.
    I knew something was up but he wouldn't tell me what was going on suffered in silence and became severely depressed. I came home early one night because I didn't like how he sounded on the phone and found attempting to take his life. He spent a week in the hospital and was put on meds. It got worse and then it all came to a head when Ricky put a threatening message on FB about Travis. Well of course it got around the cops were called and everything came to a head and guess who was made out as the victim? Travis. When I got to the school I brought my brother Joey and everything came out in that office. Ricky even told us that Travis and his friend were harassing him in the lunch room in front of the school sports director and Ricky said would you please tell them to leave me alone and he said Rick your seventeen years old grow up. He was called down to the meeting and confirmed he'd known about it and had in fact said that. I found out about the fight and everything else that had been going on. Travis and his parents came in and they shouted at me that my son was sick and had problems, excuse me? Anyway the State Trooper that was there said he was not going to take any action and to the parents said. "This kid isn't a criminal and this whole thing is a result of inaction by the people in authority who had a responsibilty to do something about it." He left the principal expelled Ricky for a week. When he came back to school he had to report to the office and be searched every day before he could go to class it was horrible for him and he didn't want to go he wanted to quit. I wouldn't let him. It was his senior year and he made some friends finally but it was too little too late for him. He was so happy to get out of high school and get the hell out of there. He thrived in college telling no one about his so called disability and is still doing well thousands of miles away from home. Now the high school after doing a poll, has found that bullying is a huge problem there and have adopted a zero tolerance policy. I recently told Ricky and you know what he said. "Good at least there's hope that no other kid will have to through what I did." Typical Ricky.

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    1. Thank you so so so much for sharing this story, Mary. Unbelievable what passes at schools without attention (kinda like my "tattletale" rant the other). Seriously, I think the anti-tattletale stance has so much to do with people not wanting to get involved. Because when you KNOW you have to do something about it. And often you don't know WHAT to do about it so you do nothing. Shameful. I am so thrilled and relieved Ricky was able to get through those years with the strength and determination to fight through it -- in his own way. Kudos. An amazing person all 'round. xoxoxoxoxo

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