“Weird, ugly, fat,” the girl said to me, describing the words her classmates had called her. “People would always talk about me behind my back, make snide remarks.”
My heart broke as this eighth grader who attends middle school in Wake County told me about the bullying she endured from second through fourth grade. She didn’t tell anyone — not her parents, not her teachers — because she was afraid their involvement would make it even worse.
“It hurt my feelings. It’s not fun to be called names or get hit in the head like I did,” said a seventh grader who also attends middle school in Wake County. Unlike the female student I spoke to, he did seek help. He talked to his parents who in turn spoke to the teacher and administrators at the school. The bullying has now stopped.
“Parents and teachers can help solve the problem,” he told me.
On Sunday, Peaceful Schools North Carolina will host its annual “Back Off Bully: Be Bold” concert at the Koka Booth Amphitheatre in Cary from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to entertainment, families will learn about bullying — how to prevent it, and how to stop it. Proceeds from the event will support anti-bullying programs in local schools.
Dawn Bates is on the board that organizes the event. She is also a local middle school administrator and teacher.
“You want to grow and move forward in a positive direction,” Bates said of her philosophy which involves intervention from parents and the school in bullying situations. “It’s not about punishment.”
“It does require cooperation between home and school,” Bates said. “Students should be advocates for themselves and their safety.”
Organizers hope the conference will give parents and students the tools to help prevent bullying — to be “proactive instead of reactive,” Bates said.
The eighth grader we interviewed is now in a much better place in her life. She is in a different school and has found a “nice group of friends.” She regrets not telling her parents about the bullying years ago when she suffered in silence and said now she would reach out for help, and encourages other students to do so as well.
“That’s was one thing I regretted, not telling my parents,” she said to me. “I would suggest they stand up for themselves. Find a group of friends who are nice and wouldn’t do this. Talk to your parents or a school counselor.”
My spirits lifted as I heard the confidence in this young woman’s voice. She had come through it with wisdom, and a desire to help others in her situation. Let’s all help prevent it from happening to other children.
Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. You can usually find her here on Mondays.