It was quite possibly the hardest 8:55 video I've ever had to watch in my life. The story of Amanda Todd's endless battle with anxiety, depression, self-mutilation and bullying, all told from her own words via You Tube. As painful as it may be for you to watch, I ask you to take just a few minutes to familiarize herself with her struggles, and her story.
While there are so many things that could be said after watching a video like this, I was seemingly left speechless. It has taken me two days to collect my thoughts and gain enough confidence to share something of this gravity with you.
As a bullied adolescent, I can relate.
As a woman, I am disgusted.
As a mother, I'm terrified.
I was a chubby little girl, period. There's no other way to put it -- I. WAS. PLEASANTLY PLUMP. Unfortunately, as you'd probably expect to hear, I was picked on, made-fun-of and bullied because of my "different" appearance. Which now as an adult, I wouldn't consider to be so "different". Anyhow, I can remember coming home from school on a semi-regular basis crying because "Jerry" (name changed) called me fat-so once again and I had had the luxury of hearing the rest of his friends including the remainder of the playground belt out another roaring rendition of "Fatty, fatty two by four, can't fit through the dining room door". My mother being a public school educator, strong-willed and compassionate woman coached me on my fined-tune response of "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me."
Yeah right, nice try! Come on, Mom... we all know that isn't the truth. In fact, that's the biggest crock of bull shit I think I've ever heard! Names do hurt, no matter what age you are. They cut deep and can never be taken back. In a former profession I had lectured and educated about self-fulfilling prophecies, a statement that inevitably causes itself to become true. If something is spoken of you time and time again, negative or positive, true or false, you begin to believe it's spoken truth.
So, the mini-bullies on the playground had me convinced at an early age that my "different" nature somehow negatively impacted their lives so much so that their lives would be better without me in it. It wasn't fun...growing up "different" as the playground antics turned into much more aggressive verbal slander through my mid-teens.
Please note: In no way what-so-ever, am I trying to draw a comparison of my menial struggles as an adolescent to those of Ms. Todd. I am only displaying them as an indicator of my youthful insecurities brought on in part due to bullying behaviors.
I grew up in a large family of women. Women who all thought their size 8 waistline wasn't acceptable, desirable or respected in society -- mostly due to those little mini-bullies on the playground. Believe me, they were around back then when they grew up, too! I remember as a little girl watching my sister, who was 13 years older than me, fill up on 16 crackers as her "dinner" while in her early years of college and spend HOURS running on the treadmill. No matter how skinny she or how beautiful she was, she never saw it -- and believe me, she was, and still is, GORGEOUS!
Now, as a mother, I realize just how early on these negative self-fulfilling prophecies begin to emerge in our children. They hear everything we say, watch everything we do and look to us for positive modeling behavior. I know more now than ever just how much my behavior and my choices will have a long-lasting effect on my children.
I reach out to you today in hopes that you all choose to take part in hopes of preventing these horrible tragedy's. Make a conscious choice to do something for the betterment of our future generation, stand up for what is right and try to model positive behavior at all times. Get involved in your community and don't feel bad about snooping through your 13 year-old's text messages. If your kids hate you for "invading their privacy", I say you must be doing something right. Our job is to protect them...from playground bullies, cyber-bullies, intimidation, social alienation, verbal and physical bullying.
To learn more about bullying, visit StopBullying.gov.
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