I would like to tell you a story about a girl named Mary. Mary has always had a lot of friends and is an outgoing girl. She cheers and plays sports. She texts all the time. She giggles the way teenage girls do. Well, she did. She stopped giggling a few months ago. See, Mary and her BFF had a fight. Happens all the time, right? Well, this time is different because a lot of time has passed and they still haven’t made up. Still no big deal? What makes this a big deal is what happened next. Ex-BFF decides to pull the mean girl card and start rumors. Ugly rumors that people hear and run with. These rumors were untrue, but once the words are spoken, they can never be taken back. Mary did the only thing she could think of that made her feel better – she starting cutting herself. She didn’t mean to kill herself, it was just an emotional response to what was happening. I know. I don’t understand it either, but it’s a problem with the teens of this generation. Unfortunately, Mary misjudged where to cut and she cut an artery. Too scared to call for help, Mary tried to stop the bleeding herself but she couldn’t. Mary died alone on a cold bathroom floor.
No, not really. She didn’t die. BUT SHE COULD HAVE. Mary’s mom found out about the cutting and Mary is now learning how to deal with emotional pain without harming herself. The bad thing is, her ex-BFF and the groupies who follow her around are still harassing Mary on a daily basis. Even knowing the pain they are causing Mary, these selfish girls just keep twisting the knife. This makes me sad as a mom, as a female, and as a human being.
The next part of my story is going to be unbelievable to some of you – at least two teachers, a few parents, and a coach knew that Mary was cutting and nobody said a word. Let me repeat that. AT LEAST TWO TEACHERS, A FEW PARENTS, AND A COACH knew that Mary was cutting and nobody said a word. What the heck? What happened to looking out for each other’s kids? What happened to just good common sense? When Mary’s mom saw the bandages and asked about it, Mary’s excuse about a cheerleading injury seemed very plausible.
When Mary’s mom found out, she talked to the administrators of Mary’s school and was told that this was “normal girl stuff”. Seriously? I hope not. When harming yourself or bullying someone until they feel the need to harm themselves SHOULD NOT be considered normal girl stuff. Mary’s mom hit a brick wall with the administrators of the school. They were not willing to intervene in any way.
With everything on the news these days, it’s apparent that teen bullying is a huge problem. We have to stop this and it starts at home. I know kids are mean. I have kids, remember? We’ve just got to teach them that there’s a difference in playful and friendly teasing, and being cruel. We’ve got to teach them that not everybody responds to our words in the same way. They need to be able to recognize where that line is and they should know not to cross it.
I believe that teachers have a responsibility to intervene and report bullying. A huge majority of our teachers are good role models and compassionate people, but I know from personal experience that some teachers ARE the bullies. If you have ever told a student who had dropped out of school and then decided to come back that they “are wasting their time” and they might as well quit again, then YOU are the bully. If you have ever had a student named Todd and you called him “Re-Todd”, then YOU are the bully. It’s not funny, it’s not harmless, and it’s not acceptable. Let’s stop it, people. There’s no room for it whether it’s coming from kids or, even worse, adults.