Bullying in school has been quite the topic as of late. People can be so cruel. However, the most devastating abuse does not necessarily come from kids, but rather from adults. The same adults who educate, influence, and instruct kids. My experience was no exception. I recall one incident when a room mother actually said to me and in front of others that is was a good thing that I was so smart and such a good athlete because I was not pretty and nobody would ever want to date me. At forty-five, I can think back and feel sorry for that woman, but at the time and for years following, it devastated me. In fact, in actually altered the course of my life.
However even with my own experiences of bullying by adults, nothing prepared me to protect my own daughter or sons from the same. I guess it was because as children, we are often taught to respect our elders and therefore any non-agreeable reaction to their behavior is considered rebellion. But what damage they do to the tender hearts and minds. This topic has been hot on my family’s list of conversations for a few different reasons, but one thing is certain, the bullying done to my children by adults altered their behavior too.
As a beautiful and curvy young woman, Aziza’s exterior said only one thing according to the youth pastors of the different churches we attended. And despite being a teenager who actually enjoyed reading her Bible everyday, a person with tremendous faith, and one who practiced her religion by being merciful, kind, compassionate, and a help to everyone around her, what those men and women did was treat her like a temptress, and even blamed her for things that were clearly not her fault. I will never forget this one youth pastor at Calvary Chapel Truckee. He was such an idiot! He invited all of the teens to have a sleepover, boys in one area and the girls in another. He and his wife then went to bed. Duh! So when these kids sneaked out of their sleeping bags and started making out, Aziza was blamed. Only Aziza didn’t even attend. Why? Because I wasn’t going to put her in an impossible situation only to blame her for doing what any other healthy human would do. Sex is good and making out is fun. So how could she possibly have been blamed? He told me that it was her influence. And it didn’t stop there; it was so pervasive within the community that she was not allowed to participate in leading worship even though she had a 2 octave range, played piano/keyboard, and could read music. The girl who did sing with the worship team wore a purity ring, and the church leaders liked that external adornment. So much for not judging by appearances.
But most recently, what has me in a tizzy is the bullying being done to my youngest by a school staff member. According to the Anti-bullying policy, if this man was a student, his condescending, slanderous, and intimidating behavior would be criminal. But because he is an adult and a staff member, he is protected from such accusations and the punishment that would follow. He has worked at the high school long enough that people in their mid to late 20’s recall him and do so with contempt. So why keep him around? I think that it is because every team needs an enforcer and he is theirs. Sadly, whereas my daughter could simply stop going to church, which she did, in order to avoid the people bullying her, my son has to request permission from the state to remove himself from that environment. And how sad for him considering he, at seventeen years of age, actually asked if he could go to school. He was eager to join and be a part of the experience, which as a homeschooler, he felt he had missed out on. So despite having to enter as a 2nd semester freshman instead of a junior, he did so enthusiastically. It took less than six weeks for that man to smother that flame.
Bullying kills. Maybe not in the literal sense, but it certainly destroys hopes and dreams which I find far worse.