Remember the hallways of your high school, lined with lockers. Innocent students gathered between the bells, chatting with each other, exchanging one binder for another, joking, teasing, laughing. Glances exchanged as the student that everyone loves to pick on strolls by, books clutched tightly to their chest, eyes glued to somewhere 3 feet in front of them on the floor.
They won’t look up. Won’t make eye contact.
They walk the gauntlet every day, hoping no one will make a comment that will drive their self-esteem even lower into the ground.
That was me in my early years of high school.
I was never popular. I didn’t wear the latest fashions or care to keep up with the most popular music of the time. I had a small circle of friends that I was very close with, and didn’t care if I had any more.
In Grade 9 I was teased terribly. I wore jeans and t-shirts every day, so I was nick-named “Farmer Girl” even though I didn’t live on a farm. Boys made fun of me for being flat-chested. I had a girl cut a chunk out of my hair in science class one day.
Bullying awareness has been taken to a new level these days. And who can really blame schools for trying to get the message out there that this will not be tolerated? Teenagers are taking their own lives because they are being teased incessantly for being different. Gay. Foreign. Different. Frightening. They all seem to be the same thing anymore.
I read about a 15 year old Canadian boy, Jamie Hubley, who took his own life after years of being teased for being gay. 15. The bullies broke him.
I thought the world was a different place now? I thought everyone was free to be whatever they were on the inside and people wouldn’t judge them for what was on the outside? I especially pride myself on being Canadian because of our reputation for being accepting and welcoming to all.
Apparently a large majority of the population missed the memo.
I think what bothers me the most about this is that the people doing the damage were not his parents, not the adults in his life… it was his peers. Fellow students his own age.
I worry for my own children.
Will the children make fun of Monster for having hearing aids? Does it make him so different that children won’t play with him? Will the fact that he’s always had them make a difference – the number of children with disabilities has risen exponentially over the last 20 years, after all.
Will Peanut get teased for wearing his heart on his sleeve? He is an emotional little boy and is easily hurt – and I don’t mean just physically.
I look at the loss that the Hubley family has had to endure and wonder what they are thinking today. They had allowed Jamie to change schools to escape the teasing. It followed him. In his blog he made it very clear that he didn’t want his parents to feel like it was their fault.
I’m a parent. And while I can’t imagine what they are experiencing right now, I know that they have searched every corner of their brains searching for the moment they ‘missed’ that would have saved their son.
My heart goes out to them.