Wednesday, September 28, 2011

It Gets Better

I am really saddened by the stories of teenagers that commit suicide due to bullying. It's been one too many lives taken away by something so stupid.

I have been bullied in high school. And I am a live example that It Gets Better. I don't know about being bullied because of being homosexual, but I do know about being bullied because of my race.
Back when I was in grade 9, I was a transfer student from another high school. In this new high school I felt really out of place. I didn't know anybody before I transferred and I only gained a few friends from day 1. Also on my day 1 I gained a few enemies. Not exactly sure why they hated me, because they usually don't talk to me, so they didn't know me very well. It was always the same group of guys that teased me and called me names like "weird bug" or "mole", not really sure why the last one. On top of calling me names, they also stole stuff from my locker, or played pranks on me in which I was pretty smart not to fall for. But they pretty much made fun of everything I did, even something simple as singing an Avril Lavigne song. I really hated each one of them. I really didn't know how to show my anger and my frustration, or letting my feelings out. My heart ached because I felt so powerless. I wanted to do something but didn't know what. I recurred to drawing as an outlet. I did some pretty graphic drawings of the guys who bullied me. I drew guys being set on fire, acid being poured on them, stroke by lightning and having their bodies pulled apart by a car all at the same time. Somehow I felt better after. And I would hang them proudly on my bedroom's wall. Next time they bullied me, I would imagine them on my picture, or making up new things to put in my drawing.

Yeah, sometimes my best friends would stand up for me from time to time, but wasn't enough to stop them from bullying me. What bothered me the most is that other classmates knew what was happening, but they didn't do anything about it. Maybe they were afraid that they might get bullied too. Teachers seemed to be clueless of what is happening. They don't seem to read between the lines of students' feelings. I also felt awkward telling my parents about it because I felt like they couldn't do anything about it. I wasn't close enough to tell my parents about my problems.

What helped me get through it was my strength. I knew that I shouldn't let other people put me down just because I was different. I knew I was different, but I knew that that didn't make me any less of a person. They bullied me because I was weak. As they got me weaker they got more powerful. They fed on my fear. They more upset I got, the happier they got. I sure wasn't gonna let this go for long.

One day, out of the blue, I decided to play fire against fire. I decided to pull a prank on one of those guys. Embarrass him in front of all his friends. It was a success! His level of shame sky-rocked as his friends made fun of him. And in that moment, that instant moment his face got red as a tomato, I gained soooo much confidence of myself. I was demonstrating them that I was not weak and that they should respect me as a person.

From that moment on, they teased me a little bit more, but they soon stopped bullying me. I knew that I shouldn't take them seriously and that they are just making an ass of themselves. Whenever you respect yourself, others will learn to respect you.

We need to understand that bullying comes from fear. Fear of somebody who is different to them. They see difference as a threat, so they need to empower themselves to feel better about themselves. And to do that, they must take on the weak ones because they are easier to target. Fear leads to hate. Hate is not something someone is born with. Hate is learned in their environment like school or home. Hate is learned when parents don't teach children about respecting others that are different to them. Maybe bullies' parents pressure them on being something, like being heterosexual and nothing more. Hence they learn how to hate whatever that is not heterosexual.

Dear gay youth,
Just because you are different doesn't mean you are any less of a person. You are what you are and people should respect you for that. We all had moments where we felt lost and out of place, but we should find ourselves pretty soon. Learn how to love yourself, and others will learn how to love you.  I know that sometimes words hurt like blades or bullets, but you have the power to not let them get you down. Bullies feed on your fear and seeing you become upset will only make them feel better. Demonstrate them that you are a strong person and that you don't take them seriously. Soon they will notice that their bullying will no longer have effect on you and will stop it. It happened to me. You are wonderful. You are beautiful. You are strong. You know what is right and wrong. Be proud of who you are and show the world about your pride. The world will see your confidence and will admire you for that. Don't think about taking away your life. Your parents will suffer. Your friends will suffer. Even people you don't know will suffer for your loss. Life is wonderful. There are soooo many great things to come waiting for you. Dreams. Accomplishments. Life opportunities. Meeting that famous person you admire. Winning the lottery. Trip of your lifetime. Having a family. Growing old with the person you love. Whenever you feel like you need someone to talk to, talk to someone before it's too late. Somebody will ALWAYS be able to help you. You are not alone in this fight.
It Gets Better.

Dear bullies,
We all fight a different fight. Those people you bully, are fighting against your harsh words and mean treatment. You, are probably fighting something different. Maybe social pressure from your friends. Do your friends want you to be someone you are not? Do your friends expect you to act a certain way so you can be "popular" or gain respect from them? You don't need to be mean to get other people's attention. Be the hero to defend the people who get bullied. Be the hero that mean people are afraid of and the hero that weaker people admire. Maybe you are fighting pressure from your family. Does your dad or dad insist you to do all the things "boys should do" and not "what girls do"? Does your dad teach you to hate whatever is different? Learn to accept other people for who they are. Don't judge them from what they may seem. Get to know them. You and them probably share lots of things in common. Those people might be the ones who hire you for a job when you are older. Those people might save your life later on. Those people might help you in the future in one way or another. Don't use words that hurt like blades. You are doing more damage than you might know. It might seem fun to laugh at someone in front of your friends, but it is not fun when someone's son, nephew, grandson takes their life away. It will impact their families and friends. You have the power to save a life. You have the power to make a difference in someone else's life. Please, don't bully.
Bullying is a crime. It’s a hate crime. And it should be treated as a serious matter in schools. It affect’s the person’s psychological health and might lead to death. And it could be totally avoidable. Parents and teachers should so something about it. Most of the cases bullying passes by unnoticed. “Boys will be boys” is not an excuse for someone verbally assaulting another person. Parents should take notice of their children’s thoughts and emotions. Teachers should take notice on children behaviours in class and outside the class, read between the lines. Most of all, they should take action. They could also save lives. Anti-bullying programs should be more intensified in schools. Children should be taught from very young to respect other people who are different from them. Schools should also have support groups or programs, maybe a TGBL group where people provide support to each other.

I’m glad to know that Lady Gaga wants to talk to President Obama about passing an anti-bullying law. It could change things to a whole new level and will make a great difference. Hopefully it will drastically stop bullying from happening in schools. 

Tyler Clementi (age 19)
Billy Lucas (age 15)
Seth Walsh (age 13)
Asher Brown (age 13)
Raymond Chase (age 19)
Cody Barker (age 17) 
Jamey Rodemeyer (age 14)

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