Bullies take many forms in all places
By Joe Black | (email@example.com)
Maybe you followed the story of Bearden High School senior Alex Notte and his prom date with professional golfer Belen Mozo. This beautiful, successful 24-year-old stepped away from her busy schedule to join Alex on this special night.
That Alex had physical and communication challenges didn’t stop him from asking for a date with Belen. That she said yes I believe is a testimony to her heart and her character.
I’m going to call the rest of this my Jane Doe story. Maybe you were never this person. Maybe you were.
I can remember how badly we treated Jane. She wasn’t one of the “cool kids” and, truth be known, was pretty obnoxious. The kind of person that might get on your nerves quickly. I can remember never wanting to be seen talking to her because my buddies might think that I “liked” her. So I shunned her. Ignored her if she tried to talk to me.
Was she that bad? Oh heavens no.
We had a “fat girl” in our class too. Shunned as though she had a contagious disease, I can’t imagine what life must have been like for her. I do know that we became re-acquainted as adults and I found her to be engaging, smart, funny, and an all-around decent person. I think she was still big but I’m not real sure because I didn’t see her that way anymore.
Stuff like this still happens every day. What were we thinking? We weren’t bad kids but obviously we could be cruel.
Bullying is not just physical beatings or even pushing someone down on the playground. Bullying takes many faces. Cruelty like this is a form of bullying.
When you make fun of what someone is wearing, that’s a form of bullying. Did you ever stop to think that maybe that’s all they had? Or that maybe their parents were unable to make the kind of choices that you think are fashionable?
Or the way someone looks? That’s bullying too. The kid with size 14 shoes in the 5th grade and you just think that’s the funniest thing you’ve seen in a long time? That is the same kid that will be 6-foot-6 and a basketball star in just a few short years.
Or the girl that had to have glasses too young and gets called “Four Eyes” everywhere she goes. Whose nose doesn’t seem to fit her face. She’s the one who grows into those things and is knock-dead gorgeous and believe me, you will wish you had been nicer to her when you were younger.
I honestly believe that is all about our own insecurity.
We don’t know who we are and are despite desperately searching for that person but in the meantime we elevate our status (in our own minds) by treating others badly.
There’s this one guy that I knew well in college that may have helped me understand how this is just basically wrong. When a bunch of us guys were hanging out together, he would pick the one person in the room that he saw as the weakest or least and make fun of him. What we called “teasing,” although it was something much darker than that now.
I was sometimes that person being picked on. It took me many years to forgive him. What he did do was teach me a little about how to treat people. And what I’ve discovered is that if you treat others with respect, if you make yourself blind to whatever faults they might have, you’re going to find some really great people out there.
People that you have a lot more in common with than you could ever have dreamed. And that’s a good place to be.
Joe Black, PT, DPT, SCS, ATC is a physical therapist and athletic trainer at Total Rehabilitation and is Manager of Outpatient Rehabilitation for Blount Memorial Hospital. Write to him at (firstname.lastname@example.org)