I was a witness and I was bullied. In grade 6, our class decided that making fun of other racial groups was funny. Until it happened to me. I was in the school walking down the hall talking to my friend when I must have said something he didn’t like and he muttered under his breath “Jew.” At the moment I didn’t really care.
Before I realized it, two of my close friends’ biggest insult was calling someone a Jew. I am Jewish with grandparents who survived the holocaust. It got to the point where they would throw pennies, dimes, loonies and toonies down the hall saying “go get it.”
Whenever we told them off they would just say it’s their joke. I was a witness in the same year. Our class was reading a book which had some racism in it towards Indian people. I laughed at first, but then it got out of hand with lots of Indian jokes. I am ashamed to say I didn’t do anything. 32 students it was funny, I didn’t. I didn’t do anything about it. Thinking back to it, I say “Where was I?. And “Where are you?”
For one year of elementary school, I sat on the bus as some of the most hurtful words I have ever heard in my life passed through one of my ears and out the other. These words could only have come from a bully. I was not the victim in that case, but even so, I fell silent with fear all those days. The victim on that bus was autistic and just because he was considered “weird” some of thought it only fitting to torment him. I’m now in middle school but his crying haunts me.
Bullying can be so scary for some that they never stand up. That’s why extreme versions of bullying, like the holocaust were never stopped because people were too afraid of Hitler and his wrath to ever lead a revolt.
If there’s one thing I hate, it’s when people don’t care about bullying. I hate when people say, “It’s no big deal” because it is. I hate when people say you won’t get affected because everyone is and I hate when people say it’ll get better because it won’t.
I’ve had my fair share of getting picked on. I’ve also been a bully many times, and I have seen a kid get bullied too many times to count. The worst position is the position of witness. Some days I have trouble falling asleep because I’ve seen someone being bullied and not said anything. I know most people in my class have been in the same situation. People have to stop being scared and start standing up to people. Here’s a message to everyone who is reading this. Things will get better, but only if we make them better.
Few of us can say that we are not witnesses. Not bystanders. Witnesses, I have had the privilege of being safe from much bullying. I have always been one of the tallest students in my class. I am white. I have high grades. I have no allergies, disabilities or mental handicaps. I am very lucky.
I have, however, stood next to the bully and did nothing. I have hidden behind a half-hearted grin, afraid to stand up lest I be the next victim. There’s the key word. Afraid. Fear of children my own age.
What world is this that playgrounds have become killing grounds. The murder of hope, love, creativity, passion, ingenuity, individually. This goes unpunished. Unnoticed. Why? When these die, our very person dies.
How do children’s executions come without a herald? Fear. Adolescents, children, minorities, even majorities. These get picked out of the crowd like slow calves by unprovoked coyotes.
I am overjoyed that the few wolves from my old school did not find their ways to this new haven at EAST. I feel safe here. Safe in the knowledge that no matter how hard a wolf nips my toes, the shepherds will protect me.
Hundreds of suicides happen every year because bullies are not banished from schools. Students’ don’t feel as if adults can make things happen and there is no anonymous reporting system. Shepherds, up your game across Canada.