Beasts and Bullies

Published October 17, 2011 by Susan Woodward

As I go through this whole Bell’s Palsy thing, I’ve been a bit nervous about how I look.  My ego is feeling as deflated as my facial muscles!  However, I never actually worried about being made fun of by students (they wouldn’t dare make fun of me to my face!) or having them disrespect me.  It was all in my own mind about how I have felt about myself.  Besides, I know that I can handle student disrespect and “bullying” without turning it on myself.

Unlike my nearly 50-year-old self who isn’t undone by the likes of a 14 year-old’s comments, unfortunately, there are young people who do not feel as strong to protect themselves against the bullying of others.  It makes me sick to see kids hen-pecking and tearing away at another student’s esteem for any reason.  Especially with the media attention on teenage suicide as a result of bullying, I am extremely concerned about this in my school, particularly about a young man in my class.

He’s bright… so bright that he actually has a 100 in my class.  No easy feat, let me tell you.  He’s articulate, has strong analytical and critical thinking skills, and is a very strong writer.  Sadly, it has been brought to my attention that he is being bullied by other kids in the class.  Not that it has ever happened within my eyes and ears, for I would have ejected the offenders immediately.  I work hard to maintain a respectful classroom atmosphere so that everyone will hopefully feel free to contribute without fear of ridicule from anyone else.  Of course, this is when I am physically present.

But then there was a day I wasn’t.  I was out sick, and there was a substitute in class.  We all know what happens to class decorum when a sub is present!  I’m not sure of exactly what happened or how it came about, but I do know that there is now a young man in pain because of the insensitivity of others.  Somebody went so far as to join our classroom website under a bogus account using this young man’s name only to post inappropriate material.  As much as the person who pulled the stunt thinks this is just some fun joke, let me tell you… this is a form of bullying, and it will not be tolerated!!

While I pray that this young man would never go to the lengths of those other unfortunate souls who were the object of humiliation at the hands of others, after all the media coverage, the fear will now always be there.  I never want the world to lose another intelligent, sensitive soul to the pain of some other person’s thoughtless words and actions.

As part of my vigilance on my path, I will play the defender.  I will seek to encourage the bright, sensitive spirit of all students, and if any get caught up in “mean girl” or “bad boy” games, I hope to steer them in a better direction.  Isn’t there enough intolerance in this world?  How will the next generation handle the BIG problems of this world if, while they are young, they are not taught to accept one another?

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