November 16, 2009

Child Abuse

Imagine for a moment that you're back in middle school gym class. You're outside and it's a beautiful day, sun shining, birds chirping.
It's field day and you're supposed to be throwing the discus, jumping hurdles, and running across the green grass of the field with your fellow students, in a 100 meter dash.
Instead, you're lying on the blacktop just outside the gym auditorium, in front of your gym teacher, getting kicked again and again in your ribs, back, and face by 2 laughing bullies. All you can think is "God, please make them stop", as your ribs & back are screaming in pain, blood dribbles out of your nostrils into pools on the hot ground, and bruises are already starting to form all over your body.
And, let's say that this is a normal day for you, getting your ass kicked that is.
It was days like these that made up most of my late elementary, middle school, and early high school years.
I've been punched in the stomach just coming into the boys locker room in gym class, by a boy with a cast from his fist all the way up his forearm, just because he thought is was funny and was curious to see if he would feel the punch through his cast. It knocked the wind out of me, almost made me throw-up, and caused me to double over in pain. But, his cast was fine, didn't hurt him at all.
That gym class experience I wrote about above is a true experience that I went through in the 7th grade, and it really did happen just a mere 5 or 6 feet away from where my gym teacher stood, whistle around his neck, glancing down every 30 seconds or so to watch.
In high school I was robbed again and again by a group of 3 boys who waited for me at both ends of a street I had to walk down to get to the shopping center to eat lunch, and they stole everything from my mothers wristwatch(a gift from her grandmother that she'd let me borrow so I could keep track of time during lunch, because she couldn't afford to buy me one) to any amount of money I had on me to buy my lunch with. That was a daily experience for me.
And, I repeatedly told school officials(teachers, principals, deans, etc)what was going on, that I was being beaten up or robbed, and they did little to nothing to stop it or punish the other kids involved. That's not to say that those bullies weren't sometimes sent home with notes to their parents or didn't get in-school suspension sometimes. But, when they saw me the next time, they were more than happy to make me paying for my tattling on them.
To be honest, going to school was a mostly terrible experience for me. I hated going there knowing I was either going to have the crap beat out of me to amuse some bully or be robbed.
Now, you ask, "Why didn't you just fight back?"
Well, fighting back was a bad idea for 3 main reasons:
  1. If by an off chance the bully was alone, fighting back ended with me getting suspended or reprimanded, and reminded said bully to bring his friends back for revenge the next time he saw me.
  2. As stated above, there was rarely just one bully. There was usually at least 2 or 3 of them. So, fighting back would have led to more bruises and more blood loss for me, than if I just took it and got it over with.
  3. Bullies aren't typically pocket protector wearing, movie nerd types. They're usually big, mean, and enjoy what they're doing to you.
Now, next time you decide to ask someone whose been a victim, "Why didn't you fight back?", think to yourself, if you were attacked by a large, vicious pack of wild dogs, how would you feel if, while laying on the ground chewed up, someone asked you, "Well, why didn't you just fight back?"
So, anyhow, I dropped out of school in the 11th grade, mostly because I was wasting my time, along with the school and my parents time, being there. And, I haven't been robbed or beat up on a daily basis sense.
But, this post is a warning and a reality check for all of you parents out there whose kids come home with a black eye, empty pockets, and/or a bloody nose. It's time to get pro-active about this. You've got to do everything in your power to make sure your child doesn't have to go through the years of it that I went through. Talk to teachers, school officials, whoever you've got to talk to in order to make it stop. Just don't do the typical parent thing and say you'll talk to the other kids parents. For us that have been bullied, we know this only leads to a bigger whooping the next day by the bully who got in trouble from their parents because of us.
I would say the best thing you can do, and no it is not too extreme, is to call the police. Whether an adult does it or another kid, this is child abuse. Those bullies need to see that they can face abuse, assault, harassment, and robbery charges for what they do.
Bullying has become somewhat of an epidemic in school, and it should be taken just as seriously as physical and emotional abuse is taken in any other case.