Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The. End. It. Now. Project

I was bullied.

It started in 1st grade. I'd had an obscene amount of Sprite with my lunch and my teacher, a real a-hole, refused to let me go to the bathroom. I had to go. Bad. I squeezed my legs as tight as I could but once we were paired for a project and I hit the cold, hard, tiles on the floor, all that Sprite came pouring out of me. Even at that age, I wanted to die. My life was frozen. All the laughing faces pointed at me. My partner scooted away in disgust. And I felt my heart nearly drop. The teacher, annoyed, scolded me and ordered me to the nurse's office so I could change clothes.

All they had were sweat pants about three sizes too big. The rest of the day, I kept my chin in my chest and avoided eye contact with all the kids who were then whispering about the girl who peed her pants.

But that wasn't the worst part.

That day was terrible. If I think back, I can still feel the embarrassment. I can still hear the laughter.  It's loud. And it doesn't stop. For the entire remainder of elementary, there was this one boy, this one deeply disturbed boy with gold teeth, who made it his mission to remind me every day how disgusting I was. At first, I'd ignore him and cry in the bathroom. But as the years passed and the kids grew and forgot, he didn't. I kept to myself so when he came around, my legs trembled and my brain shut off. "I know what you did," he'd say, followed by a demand I'd have to meet in order for him to keep quiet. I remember begging him not to remind I did whatever he asked. Sometimes it was homework, others, it was whatever stupid request he had such as asking the teacher a dumb question to make *him* laugh.

I felt tortured. Like an animal. Or a slave. I couldn't escape the humiliation. Day after day the pain resurfaced. This is when I first remember being depressed and turned to self-harm. Between the ages of 7-11, I lost me. I couldn't figure out how else to deal with the pain and I sure as hell couldn't verbalize it. It wasn't until I went on to middle school, and the idiot bully didn't, I started to heal. But the wounds will always be there.

I already told you of my daughter's struggles in school and it wasn't easy for her to tell me. But I persisted. Not just because she seemed a little off one day, but because it's my job to dig beneath the surface. I ask the right questions. I've gotten to know some of her friends and their parents. I've talked to the teachers. I'm doing everything possible to *know* my child and who is around her when I'm not.

Communication is important. Start talking. Keep talking.

It's only the beginning for her. Some days the girls are all friends. And the next, they're pushing her to the ground. This is where it starts. And to me, this is where it ends. From the tender ages of 4-5, when socialization begins, we need to educate these children what bullying is, why it's wrong and how to prevent and/or stop it. If you're a parent and you're only now talking to your teen, chances are, it's too late. With bullying statistics on the rise, it seems everyone knows someone who's been the victim of bullying. Or worse, a victim who's succumbed to the constant fear and pain by ending their life.

This is serious.

It has to end. Like yesterday. This is why I started The End. It. Now. Project.We can fix this. No more school shootings. No more kids afraid to ride the bus. No more fear. Pain. Shame. So what can you do?
Share the video
Together, we can end this. Bullies are lame. Don't be lame.


CandylandAgainstBullying. OUT.


Accidentalwriter said...

Those of us who have experienced bullying know the long term impacts - if one child or teenager can be saved from this scourge through your efforts Candace - what a blessing that will be for them. More power to you. Jeff.

Jessica Bell said...

You did a wonderful job on the video. Seeing your daughter made me cry. Sorry I couldn't be a part of this wonderful thing you're doing. Technology sucks sometimes :(

Jen Daiker said...

I loved the children in it. That brought it to such another level. Of course, naturally, I didn't like seeing myself. Thank god for blogging, keeps me from the vlogs.

Matthew MacNish said...

Signed. Now I'm going to watch the video. So mad at myself for not getting something to you.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

I was bullied a lot when I moved to the US from England. No wonder I had poor self esteem (which of course made me a bigger target).

My own kids struggle with bullying. Sometimes they're the ones who say the stupid things. Other times they're the victims. By pointing out how they felt as the victim, I can get them to think before they say something that could hurt someone else.

The biggest issue is peer pressure. If it weren't for that, there would be less bullying.

Kelly Polark said...

Awesome video, Candace. I'm glad to be a part of this, but sorry we have to do this. (Our family has no screen Wed during Lent, but I had to check it out. Will be back tomorrow and post it all over my social media.)
Well done, girl.

Becky Mahoney said...

Thank you so much for this. I was bullied too, and it's so sad that this is something we consider 'normal' during childhood.

SA Larsenッ said...

You did an amazing job piecing the video together! The message is totally clear. IT. DOES. END. NOW. So blessed to be a part of this message. Let's keep the movement forging forward. Only good will come out of it. :D

Jessica Salyer said...

It's so sad that we even have to do this. I remember being bullied on the bus by older kids. Thank you for starting this. Our kids shouldn't have to go through this. No kids should.

Dawn Ius said...

Great job on the video, Candace - and thank you for bringing more attention to this important issue. I was also a victim of childhood bullying...and in fact, I also have an adult bully. You're right. It has to end. Yesterday.

Johanna Garth said...

That is such a powerful anti-bullying story. Thanks so much for sharing it!

Jo Schaffer said...

Thanks for doing this. Check me out-- up in there.

(= Awesome.

Creepy Query Girl said...

I was bullied from ages 9-13 by my best 'frenemie'. She was like some kind of recess mob boss. If I didn't do what she wanted. If I drew attention to myself. If people liked me...she wasn't happy. She wasn't happy unless I felt like crap. And then her family moved in NEXT DOOR!- so there was no getting away. I was lucky to have a sound family life. I told my parents. My teachers. But adults interviening did no good. She was even meaner- just more discreet about it. My friends couldn't play with me anymore because she told them not to. And you did what she said. The worst part is that bullies tend to create bullies. I remember being terrible to my little sister or my cousins just because I could. It made me feel better about myself. It's just a terrible cycle.

K.D.Storm said...

This piece is awesome! I have written several times about my son being bullied in school/bus/daycare on my blog and as a child was bullied myself. You have inspited me to write another post about the subject and if you need any help let me know. I will do all that I can.

The Mom Pledge said...

This is so fantastic! I love it. Sharing widely.

I am focusing my anti-bullying efforts on moms. Because children are not born bullies. They learn this behavior. Often from their own parents.

Janeen said...

It started at that age for me too but really, it started well before that, before I even started school there, when my older sister and brother were new to the area (my family had moved to this rural area of WI from Chicago). They were teased, harassed, and bullied. And it only got worse when I was there. I had the additional burden of having hearing loss which meant that I didn't talk as well as they did. It sort of started with older kids at school and on the bus saying I was retarded. In first grade, the kids in my class got in on it too (though there was an incident in kindergarten where the kids all freaked out on me and told me I was going to die after I touched the caterpillar of a monarch butterfly). Unfortunately, my memory is long of the abuse I suffered from, abuse the teachers did NOTHING about. If anything I was the one who got into trouble. And it seemed the adults had as much against me as their children did (did not help at all that a lot of people hated my family period). This was an area where there were a lot of large extended families and if you didn't have a cousin of some sort, you pretty much were an outsider.

I suffered through until 4th grade when my mom finally made the move to the city 50 miles away where she was going to school (may I mention that if the whole school thing was bad enough, my home life wasn't much better and I was even a latch key kid in many respects?) and pulled me out of school and enrolled me into a Catholic school after Christmas break. By then, it was really too late. I never did trust kids my age and learned to be a loner. I also learned to deal with a lot of things on my own because adults oftentimes didn't care to do anything to protect me, not the teachers or my parents.

I don't think people fully realize the impact that bullying has on a person, the LIFELONG impact it has. They think that kids will get over it eventually but many don't.

Sarah Pearson said...

The only good thing to result from being bullied as a child was being able to spot fairly quickly that my daughter was being bullied. There were a lot of phone calls and visits to the school, but it got dealt with eventually.

I didn't want her growing up with the same issues that have plagued me all my life. I wonder if they care what damage they do?

This is a good thing you're doing. I wish I had been able to sign the petition but, being from England, it wouldn't let me.

Caledonia Lass said...

I have been the "Bully Beater" my whole life. I stood up for kids being bullied in school and still do so today. I work at the local Boys & Girls club and we have signs and petitions all over. I don't like bullies and have hopefully helped some kids heal and others to stop being bullies themselves.
Excellent post, excellent work!! (I also dropped by to tell you I have an award on my blog for you...)

Brianna said...

Thank you for sharing such a painful moment in your past. I still get chills down my spine remembering the cruelty of children in elementary and middle school. My daughter is turning 4 and I get more anxious by the day about what type of bullying she will face. Thank you for giving me resources to calm my nerves and give me hope that I can help her rise above.

Eric W. Trant said...

I was always the small, smart kid.

As in this: I was the smallest in the class. I was the smartest in the class. I was not in-between on either of those things. I was number one, both ways.

I wasn't ugly, or scrawny, but I was small, and I was a target. So I learned to fight. I fought every year in school except my senior year. I promised myself that I would go at least one year without popping someone in the eye.

As an example, in 7th grade, we moved. A playground game turned sour, and I wound up tangled with two 8th graders, much larger. One held me from behind. The other gut-punched me till I dropped.

They didn't finish me off, and as soon as I caught my breath, I picked up a tree branch and chased the pansies across the playground, both of them screaming, me whacking the crap out of them with that stick, and they thought they'd be safe hiding behind the playground teacher lady.

Wrong again. When she ducked, I kept whack-whack-whacking them.

Fast-forward, and I'm the only guy on our company soccer team with a red card, because a guy was antagonizing and tried to nut-ball me (kicked the ball into my groin). I hockey-jerseyed him and thumped him in the temple a couple of times before they pulled me off. Again, he was a much-larger guy.

I can't stand bullies. I have zero tolerance now, and always have. My son, God bless, has that same bone in him. I don't worry much about him being bullied.

I worry more about the poor bully who tries to push him around.

I'm sorry yours was so long-fought. If we had been in school together, I would have tangled with that guy and settled him out, promise you. Bullies are a red shirt to my inner bull, and I rarely missed a chance to gore them.

Except for the really, really big bullies. Then you're on your own. ;)

- Eric

Zubair_Khan said...

Great job buddy, thanks for this useful information. For the morning walk i prefer sweat pants, these are the most comfortable apparel.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

What a powerful post! (I tweeted it.)

I think talking to your children is so important. Also sharing your stories and experiences is important too. One of the most important things we can do as parents is be good role models for our children. That means we can't make fun or people or stereotype shows kids that that behavior is acceptable. And it's not. it's just another form of bullying.

Susanna said...

Your blog is JUST GREAT!! I LOVE the idea of your project, it will make so much good in the world!! :)


Susanna said...

Your blog is JUST GREAT!! I LOVE the idea of your project, it will make so much good in the world!! :)


Lydia Kang said...

Hope it's not too late for saying this, but thank you for doing this. It takes bravery like this to make the horribleness of bullying go away.

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