The Lasting Effects Of Bullying

I remember it like it was yesterday even though it’s been 20 years. It was the year that made a mark on me and not in a good way. I remember walking into my 6th grade class, excited to see my friends, talk about the latest babysitters club book we were reading and sit with my best friend at lunch and steal her fresh cut peppers her mom gave her everyday. But instead I walked into a class where everyone hated me all of a sudden.
A year that was supposed to be full of excitement with friends and preparation for High School, completely ruined the way I felt about myself, school and my peers by a few mean girls who turned my world upside down with their mean words.
These girls found joy in singling me out, spreading lies about me, saying mean things and making me cry everyday.

Everyone told me to ignore them, that they would stop. Not to pay attention to the shitty things they would say and do and that it would all go away soon. It did, eventually. But things were never the same after that. They eventually moved on to their next victim but took a lot of me with them. They took away the girl who loved going to school everyday, loved making new friends and turned her into a self conscious girl who went on to hate the rest of her school years. The part that bothers me the most is that they probably don’t remember any of it and have no idea what kind of impact that had on my life.

Fast forward 20 something years and I’m a mom of 3 beauties, one who is now going through the same kind of thing that I did. I wish I could take it all away for him. I wish I could tell him that he wont even remember this in a few weeks but the truth is he’ll probably carry it with him for a long time. People tend to think that being verbally bullied is no big deal, just ignore it. Sticks and stones…right? Wrong. It’s SO hard for a child to just ignore what their peers are spewing at them every day. Even though as adults we think it’s petty shit, it’s not. It’s shit that’s going to stick with them for a long long time. Shit they replay in their heads over and over and start to believe.

I try to explain to my kids all the time the affect they can have on their friends by being an asshole, and that it can have a lasting affect so I tell them to choose their words wisely. It’s totally fine to not like someone, but don’t be that person who changes a person and how they feel about themselves forever because you don’t like someone.

I wonder sometimes if their parents were like the girls in my 6th grade class during their school years. I wonder if they’re the kind of parents who think “kids will be kids” and just let it go. I understand that some kids are more sensitive than others but why should I have to try and teach my sensitive child to “toughen up” why can’t we teach our kids to have compassion and empathy for others from the get go?

I’m pretty sure those girls have no idea what they put me through and probably don’t even remember but I do, and I always will.

Looking back, I guess I can say thank you to those bitches, for giving me even more motivation to not raise people like them.

How do you talk to your kids about bullying? Let me know in the comments!

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