Presentation on bullying last night…

I’m sitting here in a t.u. dorm attending an ILPC workshop with the newspaper staff, my first official event as head adviser to the school’s paper.  Probably will have more to say on that at some point, but currently am thinking about a presentation made last night by Barbara Jane Paris on cyber-bullying.

Her presentation revolved around several kids who were bullied and took their lives after not finding any other way out of the crap they were dealing with daily.  She also included some of her own anecdotes as a principal here in Texas. Some of the vileness that these kids had thrown at them on a daily basis…it was hard to hear.  And the recurring theme kept coming back: if one kid had said something like “Hey, lay off, that’s not cool” or “Stop it”, just once, many of those kids might still be around. Graduated. Off to college or wherever and away from the shit that high school sometimes  is.

I tend not to reflect back on high school too much – I didn’t involve myself in it very much beyond the soccer team and a few AP classes.  I did take one semester of journalism which must have made enough of an impression to make me consider majoring in it (I didn’t), and I wrote for the creative writing magazine. I’ve always loved writing but apparently not enough to take the risk of actually devoting time to it.  A personal shortcoming that I kick myself for, but not yet to the point that I’m tired of the bruises.

I also faced a bit of bullying in high school.  And, of course, those memories tend to come back to me more often than the good stuff. Some crap in the cafeteria early on by two guys I didn’t know then but can still see their faces today. Then there was a time at a public pool where I got spit on by a kid trying to goad me into a fight.  I walked away – his friend stood right behind me and I thought I would get teamed up on. I regret walking away, though.

As I said above, it’s this kind of crap that stays with me, moreso than the better stuff. I now think back to participating in Powderpuff my senior year and a game of T.A.G. in the hallways (our rubber dart guns got confiscated pretty quickly), soccer road trips and graduation, but only now, when I’m deliberately thinking back to my high school days.  It’s the other stuff that comes back when I don’t want it to, the stuff that, even at 40, I’ve apparently not quite gotten over yet.  They’re scars.

And they’re the reason I can’t abide bullies.

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