Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bullying No More

August is the universal time to go back to school. I saw on Twitter where somebody described August like the Sunday of summer. Summer isn't exactly over yet—but school is just around the corner. And with back to school comes the commercials and advertisements for new jeans and the cutest little binders and kids having a word fight on the playground over clothes shopping ("Yo momma is so fiscally responsible she got all dat on free layaway").

And then I see bullying commercials, and to be honest, they kind of suck. Not in terms that they make me feel all bad inside, but the way they depict the scenes and just the overall production of it is inaccurate and just suck-y. It's not that I think that bullying doesn't happen, but the way they depict it, is the type of bullying you would see on a Lizze McGuire episode, not in real life. And to be honest, I don't really like bullying commercials in general. It's like the government thinks they can fix one of the biggest issues in teenager's lives by a simple commercial that's similar to the videos we are required to watch during sex-ed—outdated and unrealistic. And we might as well throw stupid out there too. 

But I've seen bullying happen and I've even been bullied. I know it happens and I know it hurts, but dammit, these silly commercials aren't helping anything. 

I recently read a beautiful letter written by a mom with a son who has Autism, that you can read here. I feel it's aimed more towards elementary aged kids, which I totally get as they can be just as cruel, if not crueler because they don't understand things like Autism or Down Syndrome. But I want ya'll to read it and hear what I have to say as well.

I have a good friend with Autism. When I was in second grade up until fourth or fifth, I used to ride home with him and stay at his house while my mom tutored kids at her school. We've still continued to be good friends as we've grown into high schoolers and I've seen him have to deal with things he shouldn't. 

I've heard people talk about him being stupid or even retarded (and I HATE HATE HATE that word) because he couldn't grasp onto the same concepts as us or because he went to special classes. I've interjected into countless conversations to let kids know that he's not stupid or unintelligent, but he has Autism. Most of the misunderstandings came from kids who didn't realize that my friend had as the mom in the letter called it, Super Powers. And it wasn't always me. On other occasions I would open my mouth getting ready to explain my friends circumstance only to be cut off by another person who was already saying what I was about to. You have no idea the joy in my heart that would come when I'd see other people stand up for him.

When we entered middle school and high school, he started playing on the football team. He didn't get much of any playing time at first, but now he plays a good bit on our JV team. A few weeks into high school, I heard something really heart breaking from a kid on the football team. He was telling me all about how the older kids (specifically the varsity players), would pick on my friend. They would take his clothes while he was in the shower and when he got out and walked over to his locker to retrieve his clothing, they'd roll up his shirt and pants and whip him with it. And they did some other things that I really don't want to go into detail about. I asked if anybody ever said anything to the boys, but the kid told me they were all scared of the older boys, which honestly, was completely understandable.

But I was still devastated.

My friend doesn't stick up for himself because his mind twists events like this into being his fault. I knew he wasn't going to tell his mom about it and honestly I was at loss. I was a freshman and I couldn't go tell senior boys that I barely knew that they needed to quit picking on my friend without completely disrupting the totem pole of high school. Eventually I got some of the boys on the JV team to keep my friend out of harm's way, but I still couldn't believe what was happening to him.

My friend kind of feels like my own child, but even better because if I was his mom, it'd be pretty embarrassing if I was looking out for him like I am, but instead I'm just seen as a good friend. I'm not made fun of because I stick up for him. I'm not bullied because I stick up for him. I'm not hurt because I stick up for him.

And I just want to urge you to help kids like my friend because obviously these bullying commercials aren't doing anything more than throwing money out the car window. You need to understand that you won't be made fun of because you're sticking up for someone who isn't able to. You need to hear real stories from real people.

On that note, leave me your story. Or your friend's story. Or your sibling's story. Or your classmate's story.

I want to hear what YOU are doing.

Have a fabulous day.


  1. Very insightful and heartfelt post, I loved it :)

    My little cousin has autism, and his family are very apprehensive about him starting school (for the first time) next week. He has very little speech and a bad temper, so they're dreading the phone calls home, especially as aid for special needs kids is so terrible here and no one sees a problem with letting them fall through the cracks..

    It's very inspiring that you always stand up for your friend, I think you must have a lot of courage to go with your sense of justice over convention :)

    1. Thank you for the kind words. :) And thanks so much for sharing about your cousin, as I can only imagine what it's like sending your child off to school and having to rely on others that may or may not get the job done right, and having to deal with people who may not understand your child.