A freshman at a Massachusetts high school named Phoebe Prince hung herself, and it has been attributed to the unremitting bullying that she received on a daily basis. 9 of the other students in the school have been charged in the case. Experts and pundits are all voicing opinions, and a quick Google search on the topic returns more than you can possibly read. Jodee Blanco, an activist and author on this subject, wrote a column that describes bullying and it’s effects better than most. She was bullied as a child, and remembers.
I remember, too. I moved halfway across the country and entered a school mid year. It began almost immediately, and it was relentless. Even those who wouldn’t participate just stood off to the side. The teachers must have known, but took no action. My parents knew, bruises, torn clothes, broken glasses. I went to my parents, and I thought at the time my father’s response was cruel, but he was right. He taught me to fight back.
I learned to fight, and I took no more abuse unanswered. Insult me and you got insulted back. Put your hands on me, and it was going to happen right then, right there. Suspensions and consequences were for later. You didn’t have to like me, but you would at least leave me alone.
It wasn’t too long after I quit being a victim that I started to find some friends and the problem faded away. I still have zero tolerance for bullying or hazing. I wish I had learned to fight back sooner. I wish someone had taught the lesson to Phoebe Prince.
Bullies are always cowards at heart and may be credited with a pretty safe instinct in scenting their prey.
–Anna Julia Cooper