Hi! I am a 15 year old girl from Kansas and this is my story..

The bad memories of elementary school happened at recess. I remember in elementary school that I was one of the girls who loved to do everything with the guys. I played football with all of the guys at recess and not all of them were thrilled I would play with them. The guys who disliked me playing would show it by not throwing the ball to me even if I was the only one open (this happened daily), but a lot of the guys supported me because they thought I was good at football. Then I remember one of the guys came up to me after I scored a touchdown, and I thought he was going to high-five me, but he ended up pushing me down. I noticed none of the other guys were going to help me out, so I stood up for myself and pushed him back, but he got right back up and pushed me down again. A teacher saw him push me down and he was in a timeout for the rest of recess. I never got in trouble.

Then middle school came and I never really got bullied because I hung out with the popular kids. Then high school was here before I knew it, and all of the people I was friends with in elementary and middle school ditched me, so I was left to find friends of my own. I met some new people and became friends with them, but they started to call me names. Names that referred to my size. I have never been skinniest person in the world, and freshman year in high school I got picked on for it. I dealt with the name calling by my friends for months before I realized there were better people out there. So I got new friends again, and they accepted me for who I was, but I still got called names by other people. Then sophomore year came. At the beginning of the year I remember walking down the school hallway and there would a senior guy who would make pig noises everytime he walked by me. That hurt the most. I never told anyone about that. That also made me start secluding myself from people I dont know! The only people I would talk to were friends and family. I only have a few close friends, but we all love and support each other because we all know we aren’t perfect and we dont try to be.

In my school, if you tell a teacher or someone, chances are the bully would find out and start picking on you more. I come from a school where if a teacher doesn’t see it, chances are they aren’t going to report it no matter what you say. The only people in my school who would deal with these situations are the counselor and principal. The people who get bullied at my school never report it and I wasn’t going to be one of those people who did.

People get bullied everyday and it breaks my heart because I know what they are going through. When I see stories on TV of people who committed suicide because they got bullied, it breaks my heart because I know that was another death that could have been avoided. I wish people could see that bullying hurts and that it needs to stop! Bullying other people does not make you cool! It makes you look like a jerk, so please if you have something bad to say about someone keep it to yourself, and don’t say it!

A little message for that senior guy to think about:

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Sticks and Stones

February 26th, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts | Your Voices - (5 Comments)

Alyssa is a great person I connected with via Twitter. Through emailing about jury duty obligations, classes, and days off from school, we discovered that we had gone to the same university! While I’ve graduated, Alyssa is studying to become a teacher. As you’ll read in her post, she is looking forward to having her own classroom to take a stand against bullying in. Please check out Alyssa’s story below!

They say, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

This is not true.
Words, it was words that hurt me.

Hi, my name is Alyssa. I was bullied and verbally harassed from third grade through high school for being overweight. The words and actions that were said and done to me all those years will always hurt and I will still cringe when I hear the names of those select few people that brought me my hardest days. I can vividly remember the stall in the girl’s second floor bathroom where I ate lunch several days freshman year because I did not want a certain group of people seeing me eat. Even to this day, I will not change in front of a mirror because I am disgusted with the person that is looking back at me. At the time, I was scared to tell someone and kept all my feelings, everything that was said inside. Now that I am older, I regret it. Even my family and closest friends were not aware of what was going on and believed excuses when I looked down. If you are being bullied, hear my story and get help…tell someone…put an end to it. You deserve to be accepted for who you are no matter what you look like. It is not healthy to keep it all inside and there are so many people at school or even at home that will help you. Don’t be like the kid I was thinking that telling someone could make it worse. In a few years, I will have my own classroom of students and will work in effort to end bullying in whatever school I am lucky enough to teach at. One of my idols Joe Jonas once said, “In this world it’s so easy to hate it, but you should always remember you were chosen to be on this earth, that it’s something special for you.” Make your time here something special and filled with people that are there to help you, not hurt you. Let’s put an end to this.
Stay Strong!
Alyssa Paolella, Connecticut

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Walk a Mile in my Shoes…

February 20th, 2012 | Posted by Jessica in Thoughts | Your Voices - (1 Comments)

Via Twitter, I recently connected with a 19 year old girl from South Africa named BillyJean (@2gedawecan). I don’t remember who followed who first, but upon reading the description she had written of herself, I knew I had to feature her. For some background info on BillyJean, she describes herself by saying: Up and coming npo (non profit organization) focusing on restoring and uplifting, educating people in a holistic manner, aspiring motivational speaker, empathy is the key to non-judgmental understanding.

She sounds like a cool girl, right? Well, she is! I asked if she would write me up a post about what inspired her to become a motivational speaker and what experiences gave her the drive to develop an organization. Luckily for us, she had a TON of great things to say. While she has been through some tough times, she understands that these times have shaped who she is today and who she would like to be in the future, especially when it comes to helping others. This is the post I received back:

There are many reasons (why I decided to become a motivational speaker and develop a non-profit organization): I was verbally abused. People felt that it didn’t count as abuse, but it does. I was also put down a lot because I’m a plus size girl, but this motivates me so much because we are all human and we deserve to be treated better. I used to feel so terrible when I would eat in front of other people because I wanted to act like, “I don’t get hungry.” That’s what I thought those people thought about me.

I  feel that the society we live in has a big impact on children’s lives. Kids won’t care anymore if they don’t have proper role models. Some fall pregnant in their first year of high school. Often times they lose their goals and objectives and instead, just go with the flow. Kids don’t stand up for what they believe anymore and that’s why I feel somebody needs to restore hope. These issues kids are dealing with like teen pregnancy and other problems are not just problems that are easily fixed. They go emotionally and physically deeper, so we need to reach people not just from their behavior, but from what caused the behavior.

(Regarding current anti-bullying programs/initiatives): To tell you the truth, children need people they can relate to, people who have been thru what they have been thru. The age difference between adults and kids is very important. Don’t have a 40 year old tell a 16 year old that they went through the same thing. Usually young people listen to people, for example, who have went thru bullying, but also made it thru and became a success. For myself, I would feel that if he/she can overcome bullying, so can I. Teachers and adults don’t understand because each generation is different.

(Regarding the good she is doing right now): I am a student nurse, I do volunteer work, I do peer counseling, and home-based care. I started my non-profit organization because I feel people need proper guidance, comfort, and education on prevention. My non-profit organization is different than others because I’m focusing on restoring people from the INSIDE out, with GOD’s guidance.

Thank you.

I encourage you to leave BillyJean a comment. Maybe you have had a similar experience to BillyJean or have thought similar things about various personal struggles, anti-bullying programs, or the good you want to do in the world… Thank you so much, BillyJean!

You can follow BillyJean on Twitter here! :)

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My name is Beth, I’m 17 years old, and I’m from the UK.

Here is my story:

I was bullied for about 6 years. I was called a lot of different names like fat, ugly, slag, etc. I was pushed around, tripped over, people threw things at me, spread rumours about me and a lot more. I’d sit in lesson being very quiet because I was scared to answer questions, for if I got the answer wrong, the kids would laugh at me, and this didn’t happen to anyone else. I’d spend my break times on my own in the library because I knew they wouldn’t go in there. I didn’t eat dinner at school because I was scared to go into the canteen (cafeteria). I was called fat and wanted to lose weight. One time they even told me it would be good if I died.

I told teachers at school and some tried to help me, but others didn’t really seem to care. The teachers that tried to help me couldn’t really do anything, I was being bullied by so many different people. The teachers spoke to 2 of the bullies but there was many more than 2! Even after teachers spoke to these people, they didn’t stop. I also told my friends, but they didn’t really want to help me because they were scared of being bullied too. I had a lot of time off school because of the bullying and my attendance was terrible. Teachers were worried about my grades and how much time I was having off from school, but they didn’t realise why I didn’t want to go to school. I was scared, scared of having to deal with these horrible people every single day! I did my exams and then finished school. I later went back to school to study further, but only did 1 year instead of 2. I left again because of the bullying.

I’ve had depression and anxiety for a long time now because of the bullying, and at one point,  I started self harming.  While I went through a lot of it on my own,  the school counsellor helped me. The school counsellor then referred me to a therapist and the therapist helped me.  Other than that there wasn’t much else to help me through this, which is why there needs to be a lot more done to help other people like me.

In my opinion, I think schools need to stick to their anti bullying policies. Some schools do, but not all of them. They have the rule in place for a reason so they need to stick to it. I think schools need to talk about the topic of ‘bullying’ a lot more so that children and young people are more comfortable talking about it, and this would also help them know what bullying is exactly because some people don’t really know. Some people get bullied, but they don’t know they are being bullied. In the UK there is a charity called ‘Red Balloon’ . ‘Red Balloon’ is an organisation for the recovery of bullied children who are too afraid to go to school. They help the children get back into education or training, but sadly they are only for people up to the age of 16. I would love there to one day be something like ‘Red Balloon’ for people older. I think it would help a lot of people. I also think every school should have some students who at every break time meet somewhere for other students to go to them and talk to them. Like for students who have not got many friends or the students who are worrying about some problems, etc.

Even though I went through all of this, I created this blog http://underneathmymask.wordpress.com/ to help others and show them that they are never alone. I still struggle with the bullying and my mental health, but this won’t stop me helping others. I really want to help people who are struggling with this. I don’t care how many people, even if I just help 1 person, I will be happy with that. I would even love to one day set up my own charity!

Together we can stop bullying.
Check out my blog and follow me on twitter @Hidden_Beth
Thank you, stay strong.

Beth x

Beth brings up so many great suggestions for other anti-bullying projects.  I LOVE the idea of a school buddy system that would pair kids up so that they would have someone to talk to during those breaks in the hallway or for a school lunch. Knowing you would be meeting up with someone to hang out or just talk would alleviate so much anxiety.   What do you think of Beth’s anti-bullying plan? Does your school have something like a buddy system?

As Beth say’s on her blog, “Things will get better, they just take time.”

Photo source

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