Tina liked schooluntil eighth grade. Like everyone else around her, she was trying to find her place in an insecure world. Her parents were having marital problems, her brother was being bullied by a bunch of boys who apparently had nothing better to do. She often went to Mickey's defense. Stress was overwhelming her. One day when the teacher left the classroom another girl told Tina to shut up. she stood up, turned to face the girl and answered, "Wanna make me?" One of the guys defused the situation without either girl losing face and everyone moved up to high school.
In choir class Tina sat in front of the second tenor section. Tom had the most beautiful voice she'd ever heard. She developed a crush on him. Word got around. That was when she learned she couldn't trust her friends. But who knew liking a boy could turn into something so ugly?
"Hey, Tom! There's your woman! Your wife!" She looked around. The speaker had a look in his eye, his mouth twisted into a mocking smile. He was publicly humiliating her. She didn't even know him so she couldn't possibly have done anything to offend or anger him.
She turned away. But the boy was relentless. If he saw her 100 times a day, he bullied her 100 times in the school corridors. Teachers walked those same halls, and stood at their classroom doors. Surely they must have heard him, a jock, and the other boys who called her derogatory names, some of which she didn't even know what they meant but obviously were not complimentary.
Why didn't the teachers say something to stop it?
Tina went to her mother and explained what was happening. "Boys only tease the girls they like," Mama said. "He's just trying to get your attention."
"Oh, he's gotten my attention," Tina said. "He's a jerk and I hate him!"
Nobody stepped up to her defense. The bullying continued. She felt like she didn't fit in-they all were so immature! She chose to ignore her bullies, look through them as if they weren't there. When they didn't get the desired response maybe they would go away and leave her alone. Did the main bully think she was weak and vulnerable? That he could make her cry? THAT was NEVER going to happen. It would take a better person than HIM to make her cry.
But at the end of the day when she went to her room, her safe place, and her books didn't carry her away from all of the chaos, and her music didn't soften the rough edges, she cried. Why did that boy hate her so much that he would make her an object of ridicule in front of the whole school? And why wasn't there an adult around who cared enough about her to help her? Didn't she deserve to be loved and accepted, too?
Why do some girls get bullied? There are a number of reasons including jealousy, perceived weakness/vulnerability, differences, and disabilities. A girl may not ask for help and she may be afraid to stand up for herself.
If she's out-numbered what chance does she have? How much worse it is when the bullying comes from other girls that she is using to take her own measurement as a human being.
When you are on the receiving end of bullying, you have a better understanding of what it is, how it hurts, and what you can do to stop the hurts. Visit www.girlshealth.gov to find the quiz to determine if you are a bully. You might be surprised.
Life coping skills are so important for all of us. What life coping skills are you giving to your daughters? Next week we'll tell you about bullying in Columbiana County.
Family Recovery Center promotes the well-being of individuals, families and communities with education, prevention and treatment programs.
For more information about our services, contact us at 961 N. Market St., Lisbon; phone, 330-424-1468; or e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. FRC is funded in part by United Way of Northern Columbiana County.