Tag Archive: bully


Ending War

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event

Hands Passing Baton at Sporting Event (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You have wounded me.

But I can see

my wounding

is from

your own pain.

I refuse

to allow

this relay race

of passing

this baton of hurt

to continue

for even

one more lap.

I will keep

this baton.

I will return to you

loving kindness

and

forgiveness.

And

I will not

concern myself

over

whether you

“get it.”

I

will leave that

between

you

and

God.

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Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first c...

Bullying on IRFE in March 5, 2007, the first class day. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Lynda Frederick did not forget the bullying that happened to her 25 years ago in High School, so when her high school reunion group created a Facebook page to announce it, she used the opportunity to share with all her classmates how they treated her.

Lynda posted a poem on her Orange Glen High School class Facebook page. On it she wrote:

The little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus
Instead of asking why… you picked on her
The little girl who had bruises and was dirty
Instead of asking why … you picked on her

After this was posted, she didn’t expect the reaction from her former classmates. Some were brought to tears and then they created a scholarship fund in her name and raised $800 to fly her back to California for the reunion.

“I got an outpour of calls and messages, people stepping forward that I don’t even remember that said ‘I know I was one of those that picked on you and I’m so sorry,’” Lynda Frederick said Friday. “It was overwhelming.”

Lynda explained how during her time at school the other children would throw rocks and things at her and would spit on her. Frederick graduated from school early and then moved to New York and had three children, but the days being bullied in high school never left her.

Former classmate Shawn Gordon, of Escondido, said he got tears in his eyes when he thanked her for the anti-bullying message and showed it to his teenage daughters.

His memories included a time when he saw Frederick being bullied.

“One bully tried to keep tripping her,” he said. “I could have said something; never did.”

Lynda Frederick has now been able to connect again and find forgiveness from those children who have now grown up to be adults. ”We can’t fix yesterday but we can try to fix today,” Frederick said. “That’s my new motto.”

**********************************************************************

You can find the link for the blog where I found this post below:

http://bullyinglte.wordpress.com/2012/05/18/bully-victims-facebook-poem-moves-her-classmates-25-years-later/

   

This is a rather long article and I am posting it without my usual insertion of photos and illustrations.  I am reposting it exactly the way it was originally done.  It is well worth the investment of time it takes to read it.  This article is a real eye-opener and I hope you feel that way too.

I was honored to be asked to deliver a sermon (really a speech) with a theme of bullying during services at my place of worship recently. I thought I would share the speech that I gave with you. It’s a bit lengthy, but I thought the subject matter appropriate to share… (~Alan Eisenberg)


The bible reading this week is AHAREI MOT, which in Hebrew means AFTER THE DEATH. This is because it takes place right after the Death of Moses’s brother Aaron’s two sons. The reading is also maybe even more significant, because it is also the origin of the YOM KIPPUR ritual.

Interestingly and possibly even intentionally, this reading takes place about 6 months after and equally six months prior to our YOM KIPPUR. It’s as if to say that we should remember that making atonement is not just a once a year event. It has always been a challenge for me to understand the idea of the once a year atonement. I know that some of us believe we have the other 364 days to build up our mistakes so that once a year we can ask for forgiveness, and then even then, we only ask it of god. While in other religions, they go weekly to confess their sins and ask for atonement, but again, only to god. Why to god, as if he is going to tell the people who most need to hear it.

Why do we struggle to say the words ANI MITZTA’ER … Hebrew for I’m sorry! Why is this so hard for us to do? And what does it mean to others when you say it to them, sincerely, and meaningfully.

David Brin, an American science fiction author, has one of my favorite quotes on the subject. He said: Why must conversions always come so late? Why do people always apologize to corpses?” The author Harriet Beech Stowe said it as well when she said “The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and for deeds left undone.”

 How often I have seen this as the truth. How many of us regret the moments we didn’t say I’m sorry. I was 21 when my grandmother died. She had lived within driving distance of us my whole life. I had spent summers with her and shared many special moments during my childhood. When I was 21, I was in college and she and I had drifted apart.  For many reasons not spoken here, we had argued recently and I didn’t apologize. And then she was gone and I could no longer tell her what I wanted to.

ZAY MOYKHL! That’s Yiddish for I’m sorry and a language she spoke often to me. Unfortunately it was typically to tell me that I was MESHUGEH (crazy). Being a fan of movies, I often quote them sometimes to the pleasure or dismay of others. I find comfort in the lines from movies, because they help me to understand that others go through what we all do. When it comes to this idea of waiting to say you are sorry, I drift to an unlikely movie, “The Sixth Sense”, which is mistaken as a scary movie, when it is really about discovering a power to help others and do good. And no, it’s not that the guy is dead at the end. And if I just ruined that for you, you should have seen the movie 10 years ago anyway. At the end of the movie; the boy who has the power to talk to the dead tells his mother that his grandmother, his mother’s mother who had passed away years ago, has been talking to him. The boy’s mother and his grandmother had a falling out years before and the mother was suffering with guilt from it. He tells his mother that the grandmother wanted to tell her something. It was an answer to a question the mother asked every time she visited her grave that went unanswered. The answer from the grandmother was“EVERY DAY”. The boy asks his mother what question she asked when she visited the grandma’s grave. His mother says the question is “DO I MAKE HER PROUD?” At that moment in the movie, the mother is able to release the pain she had carried with her all those years.

But in life, we don’t get to talk to the dead and they don’t get to answer us. It is ironic that this is the week I have been invited to deliver this D’Vor Torah, because I contemplate this question often when I speak to groups about bullying. Since 2007 I have chosen to take on the cause of helping others cope with the pain and suffering they feel from being bullied. I speak to groups and have a website of stories and information to try to help others. I started this to help myself, because I too had been a victim of bullying as a child and knew the long-term suffering this was bringing to others. I realized that the theme I would share when I spoke was one of trying to teach and promote empathy and find forgiveness. Because it is in heart and head that we carry the burden of the pain of cruelty and also the guilt of what we did. I had no idea in 2007 how this decision would change my life.

I decided my first action would be to write down all of the stories I remembered from those years of bullying. I grew up in Lexington, Massachusetts in the 1970s and this is where it all took place. This is important later. I wrote my stories onto a website. I did it just for me to release these things from me and put them to rest. But it would not be so easy. A few years later, I was invited to speak about my stories. This was also very difficult and the pain of those memories would come back to me. You see, I believe we never really forget the wrongs done to us, we just store them in the back of our minds and put them in a deep place. But they build over time and without the apology, without someone making amends, I believe they make us a harder person. But over the last five years, it seems many have found my site and find hope in the words posted there. What I never expected was that those people I knew in Lexington would find my stories as well and that I would have to confront these words. . .I’m sorry.

The first person to find his story was actually my best friend from those years. I knew he had found them, because he started replying to other posts with his memory. But he hadn’t found his story. You see he had hurt me as well. One Halloween, he and my other friends had taunted me from the woods and ran off, leaving me to walk home alone, no candy in my bag. Looking back as an adult, it doesn’t seem that bad. But our memories are from the age that things happen. He read his story and then I received his note directly to me…30 years later.

He wrote: “For what it’s worth, and what I recall of that night, it was just kids being kids… I think we were all just being goofy with the mischief of the night, being Halloween and all…and I will say I am sorry if your feelings were hurt.”For those young people in the audience, can you imagine getting a note from your friend 30 years later apologizing? I couldn’t and was embarrassed I had put him in that position. But you know what, I felt a little better. I called him and we talked for hours after that. We still do today. A little repair.  Pra-stEE-te…That’s Russian for I’m Sorry.

I had hoped that would be the last. I never really expected anyone to read my site anyway. Who am I? Just someone trying to work his way through life. I then was looking through my old Bar Mitzvah book one day and saw that there was a boy in it from Lexington who I couldn’t recall our times together. I knew his name, but not the times we spent together. He found me through Facebook one day and wrote to me recounting all the good times we had. He particularly reminded me of the time we blew up our toys with firecrackers. Don’t tell anyone I did that though. He wrote: I must say that you moving away was one of the saddest events to me. We became such good buddies so fast. I have an unbelievable amount of memories hanging out together, doing sleepovers, and just being generally mischievous…

It bothered me not to remember him, his memories were so vivid of me. Then I discovered why. In his second note his explanation told me when he wrote:

I remember being incredibly sad when you moved away. I got over it of course, but there’s always been something about it in the back of my mind that’s bothered me. Specifically, what happened at the end of 7th grade when we had a fist fight at school. As far as fistfights went, it wasn’t unusual. Even for friends, because usually they can move on and endure that kind of stuff. But what’s bothered me since then (and I was just thinking about it only a couple of weeks ago before you contacted me) was how that injured our friendship, and then you moved away before we could really set it completely right. That was a mean day for me, and one which I really wish I could have back.

And since a window of opportunity doesn’t always open for long, I have to use our reconnection to tell you now how incredibly sorry I still am for what I did to make that fight happen, for every blow struck against you, and for whatever mean (and I mean in the low-class, uncaring, dirty, and despicable sense) action or words that were used by me, before or after. ut I’ve always known that my part in that event was a sin, and one which I still hold onto. I have never forgotten about it.

32 years later. That guilt was still with him every day. And I had blocked him from my memory, because the pain of losing one more friend during those years was too much for me. We talked and shared our feelings. He was able to say sorry in person and I did too. Even though I didn’t remember, I was sorry. But to me I thought “what if I hadn’t made my site and found him?” Would that still haunt him to the end? Do we all have that inside us. But for me, a little more repair.

Finally, I want to share this more recent story that took place in December. By far, it was the hardest story for me. You see there was a moment in time when I was the bully and the guilt was in me. During Hebrew school class one day we put tacks on one of the kids chairs, not a few, like ten. We thought it would be funny. When he sat down it wasn’t. I felt bad about doing it. See he was the one who got picked on then and I was the one participating in it. I shared that as well on my site. Well, it seemed in the five years since I started it, my site and stories had been read by many and at what would have been the 25th reunion of the high school in Lexington, Massachusetts, it seems they were talking about me, the bully expert who writes about the bullying that happened there. It seems to some, I was a local hero to write about what happened to not just me, but I would find out to many. It seems that the boy, now a man, who we did the tack attack to heard as well and found his story on my site. I knew he did, because I heard from his friends, who wrote not too kindly to me. It was my turn to have to reach out and say I was sorry. I was racked with guilt…31 years later. I called him. I said the words…I’m Sorry…I expected anger. What I got was a wonderful conversation with an old friend who was happy for my call and for sharing our stories. He had it far worse, but he used it for strength. He repaired a bit. I repaired a bit. We talk often now…it is behind us.

I feel lucky to have had these three experiences for saying I’m Sorry. Many of the negative feelings that I started with five years ago have left me. I think in some way, I have helped others do the same. This weekend, I saw the documentary called BULLY that just came out. I wish I could tell you much has changed, but it seems not. In it, an awkward 14-year-old named Alex is beaten daily on the bus and ignored by all. His mother asks him “doesn’t it bother you, doesn’t it hurt you?” He just says in calm anger, “I really don’t think I feel anything at all anymore”. So what happens next to him, to others. There are many stories of children, young children, that commit suicide from bullying. It is too late to say I’m sorry after that and many are left with the guilt. I think it interesting that this weekend’s reading deals with Aaron and this loss of his children. Is this where the origin of Yom Kippur starts? What does that do to an individual…to society? These are rhetorical questions I ask often as I contemplate the issue of bullying.

What difference would it make if we just said “I’m Sorry” more often and meant it when we said it. As I and some of my elementary school friends have learned, it’s never too late to say you are sorry. It changes lives. And I can tell you it feels good just to say it and move on…

Jammer!…Oprostite!…Tevechi…Anteeksi…Desole…Gomen Nasai…Przepraszam!… Samahani…Xin loi… ANI MITZTA’ER…I’m Sorry.

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The blog site for this post contains a host of useful information on bullies and bullying, including hotline numbers.
To view the blog where this post originated, please follow the link below:
god

god (Photo credit: the|G|™)

There is a knot in my gut that never seems to go away anymore.  The stress and fear never go away either.   I walk quickly between classes, keeping my head down, eyes averted, hoping against hope that just this once they won’t notice me.  hey won’T be waiting.  Lurking.  I still limp from when they broke my legs.  Both of them at the same time.  It still hurts so much.  An accident.  And those bullies just stared dead at me with smirks on their faces because they knew I would be too much of a coward to say otherwise.  I try really hard not to use the bathroom all day, not drinking at all because going into the restrooms holds its own particular kind of hell if they catch me there.  I can’t concentrate.  My grades are slipping.  I am slipping.  In my mind I still hear all the kids laughing at me as they call me names, trip me, hit me, and whatever else they can think to do to me.  They call me “homo,” and “moron,” and “loser” and worse.  They pushed my face into a toilet at school right after one of them had used it.  They pushed my face right into their mess and then high-fived each other and laughed as I cried and puked my guts out.  I awaken each morning from my nightmares which are still kinder than my daily reality.  I slide from nightmare to waking daymare to nightmare to waking daymare in an endless circuitous prison.  Whoever coined, “TGIF,” had no idea what it is really like when Friday marks the only respite in my life from constant terror and humiliation.  I live for weekends and vacations, but a dark cloud always looms larger and larger the closer the day  comes when I must return to school.  My mom complains about me spending more and more time alone in my room.  It has become my haven that guards my secret torment.  It harbors my secret tears of rage and shame.  I weep in a silent scream into my pillow as my mind turns constantly over the same tracks of self-dialogue relentlessly beating and crashing against my soul.

Emo Boy

“I can’t take it anymore!  I hate them!  Why do they have to keep picking on me?  Why can’t they leave me alone?  Because I am a big loser!  I’m a loser just like they say.  I am a fat, ugly, stupid loser!”  I rock with the pain moving to some ancient,  wailing rhythm from a siren of destruction only I can hear.  I am slipping further and further inside myself, retreating from this world into a place of lost reality and agony from which one day I will not be able to return.  “I hate myself! I hate myself!  I am such a waste of space!  I wish I was dead!  I can’t do this anymore!  I can’t go back!  God, don’t let my mom find out!  Oh, I am so ashamed!  I am such a wimp; I can’t make them stop!  I just want to die!  Just let me die, God!  Please.  I want to die.”My world grows darker each day as I struggle to hang on until one day, I just can’t take it anymore.  I take all their hate and turn it in on myself with all the rage I have slowly, silently, lethally felt building deep below the surface.

Then everyone will ask, “How could we not have known how bad it was?  We missed all the signs.  Everything seemed okay. I looked like I was handling things ok.  How could I do it?  Why didn’t we help?  Why didn’t we realize?”

grave stone

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A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio

A Bully Free Zone sign - School in Berea, Ohio (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I attended an anti-bullying rally, walk, and party at my daughter’s school.  I commend highly all the students, families, and school personnel that were present.  Accolades especially to Channel 15, here in South Carolina, who realized it was an event worthy of some coverage.  That being said, I must admit that I was shocked and disappointed by the attendance.  All schools from  primary through high school were involved.  I expected there to be an enormous turn-out for such an important event.  I expected families to realize how horrible bullying in this country has become and to welcome this opportunity as a teaching opportunity to instill values in their kids.  No wonder there is such a problem when more families cannot take a few hours on a Saturday to come out and show their kids that they do not tolerate these or any other types of hate crimes.  And yes, I said crimes.

Bullying is different in some crucial ways than it was when I was a kid.  It is often no longer one-on-one, but a gang of childrenon one child.  It is no longer name-calling and maybe a scuffle or fist-fight.  It is daily torment.  It is facing assault and battery every day.  Can you imagine trying to work under such conditions?  It is broken bones from toilet seats being slammed on your fingers, or being pushed so fiercely, you break your ankles.  It is having your face pushed in a used toilet into someone elses’ feces.  This is horrifying to me that children are committing these crimes on children, and you need to be aware that it is an epidemic in our society.

this is my own version of what bullying looks like

this is my own version of what bullying looks like (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you think your child has never been bullied, sadly, you are probably wrong.  They were probably too humiliated to share the problem with you or don’t think you can do anything about it.  Children are killing themselves every single day because they can no longer take the daily punishment they undergo at the hands of these bullies.  Our kids are committing suicideand we sleep in on a Saturday morning instead of using the opportunity to take a stand and make a difference.

My kids didn’t want to go.  I made them go.  And we had a great time.  But I will tell you something else.  We listened to some other kids and parents describe unbelievable acts of hatred and violence and my kids realized where that bullying behavior can go if not stopped and stopped immediately.  We all felt our hearts hurt and they know, more than ever before, exactly where I stand on the subject.  My kids would never stand by and watch another child get bullied without intervening, even if they can only report it.  They know it is wrong.  Have you talked to your kids about bullying?  Have you asked what they have witnessed at school?  Because I guarantee you they have witnessed it.  Have you had the guts to ask if they have ever been bullied or bullied someone else?  I welcome your input on this topic and look forward to discussing this further on my blog.  Being bullied is not a “character builder.”  It is a crime.  How do you think it should be dealt with?  What can we do as families, as parents, as school personnel and as a community to end this violence?  Check back as I explore the dynamics of helping our kids learn to accept themselves and others in a healthy way, how to overcome being bullied, and how to overcome being a bully!

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