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Grade 7 students participate in class at East Alternative School of Toronto (E.A.S.T.) in Toronto, Ont. Nov. 30, 2011. (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)
Grade 7 students participate in class at East Alternative School of Toronto (E.A.S.T.) in Toronto, Ont. Nov. 30, 2011. (Kevin Van Paassen/Kevin Van Paassen/The Globe and Mail)

Insight

This is what bullying feels like Add to ...

VICTIMS

T. Williams

I would prefer not to use my full name, but I want to stand by this letter, so I will use my last name. My name is T. Williams. Before I tell you my story, there are three things you need to know.

1. I felt scared

2. I was a loner

3. I’m Japanese

I was a loner. I kept everything bottled up. Rarely talked. And the few friends I had weren’t close. I didn’t see the point of friends. If I witnessed something, I didn’t say.

I remember the first time I went to Scout camp. Our troop’s campsite was beautiful. We could go fishing, swimming and raspberry picking. There, I met this kid named CG. I told him I was Japanese. CG then answered with “Oh! No offence but … hate you.” I asked why, and he said, “Because you killed my grandfather in the Second World War.” For the rest of the camp, he was a little piece of hell inside my head. I never saw him after camp, but after that summer, I promised myself to never let any person be racist to Japanese people, or to any other culture.

Two years later, I came to E.A.S.T., and I loved it. I thought it was normal not to have so many friends. Now people come up to me to talk and that’s new to me. It wasn’t until this year when I started telling my story. Even then, only a few people knew. I didn’t even tell my parents about this story until now. I used to keep things bottled up, now I’ve smashed that bottle.

To the people who know who this is, friends, mom and dad, brother and sister, I’m sorry. I always found it easier to keep things to myself, now I don’t. If you want to come up to me and start talking to me about my story, please don’t. It’s too close to me, and I’m still scared. Some days I wake up and I can’t trust anyone. It’s still a battle for me to let things out. To all those I love, I’m sorry for not being able to tell you how I really feel sometimes. To all those shy kids, you need to tell someone, otherwise you will feel alone with lots of weight and pressure on your shoulders.

Helen Rotenberg

Bullying. It can make you feel like you are the worst person on the planet. And that’s exactly what happened to me.

Going into Grade 4, the girls in the class turned on me. I was petrified. I would cry myself to sleep not wanting to go to school the next day. It wasn’t a physical bullying. Constant whispering and snickering was what drove me insane. It was as if they were laughing hyenas. I wasn’t the kind of person who told my parents a whole lot about my personal life so I trapped myself in this vicious cycle. How did they bully me? Simple. They would find the tiniest imperfection and nag me about it until I felt like I was the ugliest person in the world. At one point, it became so difficult that I almost wanted to kill myself. And I am not exaggerating. One day in late June, I finally confessed to my dad. It was a five-minute drive home but by the end of it I was sobbing. I had all of the pain and anger bottled up. By the end of Grade 4, I was all ready and set to switch schools for Grade 5. The bullying had changed me in ways that still affect me to this day.

Writing this, I am tearing up. Sometimes it is hard for me to speak up on new ideas because they always used to shoot me down. And I still have a self-conscious body image. If you are a parent, I am begging you to check in with your child and see how things are doing. I was lucky that I had somewhere else to go, but for some people it can become so unbearable that they need to take their lives. So the message? It can’t be ignored. Bullying is a form of torture. Please, do something.

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