Today is World Bullying Prevention Day. This is a topic that is very close to my heart.
I was bullied quite a bit in school. It started in late elementary and continued through graduation. It took different forms over the years but the message was always the same- I was weird, I was ugly, I wasn’t “cool”. I was bullied because I was smart- on one occasion I was threatened with bodily harm if I didn’t “throw” a test. For the record I didn’t, and had no intention of doing it, but I was so nervous and scared that I wound up scoring lower than I should have anyway.
This day of bullying prevention was started in 2007 by 2 high school boys named David Shepard and Travis Price. They noticed a fellow student getting teased for wearing a pink shirt the first day of school. They went out that night and purchased 50 pink shirts and distributed them the next day and it took off from there. By 2009 it was already being observed in multiple countries and it was declared World Day of Bullying Prevention by the United Nations in 2012.
What is the best way to prevent bullying? The jury is still out on that. However, I believe that education is the best tool we currently have. If you have kids, please talk to them. It’s not just “kids being kids”. It’s real and it hurts. It hurt me.
I do want to report that quite a few of the people who were involved with the bullying have, as adults, apologized to me for their actions. And I certainly do appreciate that. I truly believe that anyone can change if they really want to, and I also believe that peer pressure was why some of them participated in the first place.
So there is hope. But we all need to take it seriously. Not just today, but every day.