Friday, March 23, 2012

Bye Bye Bullying

The much-publicized "Bully" documentary is coming out next Friday and I didn't realize until today that part of it takes place in Sioux City, Iowa. I spent two years in Sioux City as a news anchor/reporter at KMEG, the CBS affiliate and covered many stories at local schools, so I became even more interested in seeing it. Bullying has been around forever and it's sad that it took this long for it to become such a topic of conversation and attention in the news. I think most of us have either been a bully to some extent or been bullied at some point in our lives. And let's be honest, it doesn't stop when you graduate from high school. There's bullying among friends and neighbors, and in the workplace. While I would love to say that I've never bullied anyone, that just wouldn't be true. I remember not being very nice to a certain girl in elementary school for really no reason at all, except that she was different. I thought I was being funny. Clearly, I wasn't. We're ALL different and we should be celebrating that, not ridiculing people, because of it. Once I got to junior high (luckily), I realized on my own that what I had been doing was wrong and mean, and I apologized to her. We then became friendly, but it doesn't change what I did. And here I am, all these years later, still mad at myself for acting that way. I also know what it's like to be on the receiving end. When I was in ninth grade (it was still junior high back then), I rode the school bus every day and just about every day, these two boys who had gotten kicked out of their school in Santa Monica and sent to my school, would harass me. I know their names, but I won't mention them here. They would grab me, pinch me, you name it. One day I was wearing this really nice dress that my mom had gotten me for Christmas and I was trying to get off the bus at my stop. I was in the back of the bus and they were both grabbing and pulling at me, not letting me off the bus. I swear to this day that the bus driver saw what was going on and didn't step in. He continued on to the next stop with me still on the bus. The boys even ripped the back of my dress. I was finally able to break free and get off a couple stops up the hill. I was angry and humiliated. I walked all the way home crying, but wiped away the tears before I got home, because I didn't want my mom to see me so upset. I didn't want to tell her what happened, even though I didn't do anything wrong. I think so many kids don't share what's going on with their parents, because they don't want them to get involved or they're embarrassed, and sadly, as we've seen recently, some kids end up killing themselves or others, because of it. Something needs to be done about this... NOW. Bus drivers, teachers, parents, kids... Nancy Reagan taught us to say no to drugs. Now, let's start saying bye bye to bullying. I think this would be a good place to open up the discussion about bullying - for children and adults, bullies and victims. Who would like to share???