Athens Review, Athens, Texas

May 15, 2014

Being bullied doesn’t have to affect your adulthood

Kathi Nailling
The Athens Review

Athens — I was bullied as a kid in school. Unlike some other people, I don't feel like there were long-term effects on my life because of bullying.

I am researching children being bullied for some upcoming articles in the Review. What I have found is that almost everyone feels like they have been bullied in one way or another. I have talked to parents who told me their children have been bullied, or they themselves were the target of bullies. No one yet has admitted to being a bully.

There seems to be a wide variety of reason we get bullied. For me, I think my family life was different than most of the kids who attended my school.

My bullying started after the death of my mother. At least I don't have any recollection of being bullied prior to her death. It's true, kids can be cruel. My mom died when I was 11-years-old. I was entering the sixth grade. What a tough year. Looking back, I don't think my school had a lot of tolerance for kids who were different.

Children can be cruel, especially to children who are different, or come from different backgrounds or life experiences.

Kids would say really mean things about my mother dying. For example, “You don't have a mother now,” “Why did your mother die?”  “Your going to be an orphan.”

Not very nice things for a young girl who had just lost her mother.  It hurt my feelings. Then again, I may be strong today because of the verbal abuse.

I don't remember being physically hurt by the bullies. These children were just verbally-cruel. My older sister would have never let anyone hurt me. Some might have considered her a bully. But no, there was never any physical contact.

In my case, I think I was being bullied because I was more vulnerable. I may not have had a stable home environment, and I may not had family support after the death of my mother. I was the lucky one – my childhood did not mold my adulthood. 

For whatever reason, I grew to be a strong independent woman. The kids were right about one thing, I did not have a stable home environment. If I were to survive this world, I had to depend on myself.

My own bullying could explain why I have a tolerance for people who are different, and I support the right for anyone to fight for what they believe. I do not mean to physically fight. But it is important to stand up and be counted.

My bullying got worse in the seventh and eighth grades.  My father, if that's what you could call him, couldn't take care of five girls. Four of us ended up in foster care. For a short time I was placed in a girls home.

Still going to public school, the kids at school thought the girls in the home were juvenile delinquents.  This was so far from the truth. The parents of these girls were just unable to care for them.  For a variety of reasons these girls ended up in the home.  No, they were not delinquents.

Bullies are present in every school and community. All children must deal with bullying or teasing from some perspective. For children involved in the child-welfare system, bullying and teasing may not be more prevalent, constant and serious problems, but those children may have few supports available to help them deal with the these issues.

Most children in my situation may have the feeling of being afraid, angry, sad or depressed, or a combination of these emotions.

There is  no real reason a child in foster care would be treated differently, but the fact remains these children suffer because of a situation beyond their control.

I never told anyone about my bullying. I am not even sure I knew I was being bullied, as much as I thought kids just didn't like me. Bullying had nothing to do with me, and all to do with the  bully.

What I do know is when I was in school (granted it was in the dark ages), I can't remember anybody committing suicide because of bullying. That tells me bullying has been taken to an all-new low. It's time to bring the subject out in the open, and discuss how we can save our children.

During my research of why children bully, or why certain children are bullies, I have found that bullies come from all walks of life. Some of the reasons kids get bullied vary – they are too smart, they are introverted, they may not have many friends, they may be popular, they have physical features a bully may pick on, a target may have an illness or disability. The bullied child may have different sexual orientation, religious or culture beliefs. Or they may belong to a different racial group. 

A quote to remember:  “When people see you're happy doing what you're doing, it sort of takes the power away from them to tease you about it.”

The bully story will appear in a future Athens Review.

Kathi Nailling is a Staff Writer for the Athens Daily Review.