THE BLOG
01/05/2012 11:31 am ET Updated Mar 06, 2012

An Open Letter to Our Former Bullies

Teens are currently experiencing it. Their parents remember it all too well. I am referring to that dreadful form of torture known as teasing and bullying. I asked parents to recall who teased them as children and during which years. The answers came trickling in at first but once the ice was broken they came pouring in. Several bullies were named including Lisa from 9th grade, Jeffrey from 1st grade, Brooke the five year teaser, George K., and on and on. Then there were parents who said that there were too many bullies to name.

I heard from adults whose classmates had been bullied by teachers. This included a 7th grade social studies teacher who told a boy that she'd like to "mop up the floor with his face to enhance his beauty." Another teacher is reported to have broken a ruler over a disabled boy's head.

Parents reported that they were teased by siblings during childhood and that bad feelings linger. Aunts and uncles and even grandparents were listed among the bullies.

As suspected, being teased/bullied is a very painful experience. It is one that adults remember years later. They may not only remember the name of their bully but also the age at which they were bullied and the circumstances that finally stopped the bullying. Usually, the end of bullying was related to a change in circumstances such as going to a new school or a new grade.

Well, I would like to say several things to our former bullies now that we are adults. You hurt us. You made us afraid to walk to school or to ride the bus. You made us feel sick about going to school. Going to recess and physical education classes was supposed to be fun but you followed us around during those times as well. Mostly, we remember that we had no one to talk to because we were embarrassed and didn't want to disappoint our parents. We may have started out as shy and timid but your "I hate clubs" etc. made us depressed and even less confident.

We hope that you have changed. We request that you take time to learn and teach two very humane lessons. The first is to be empathic toward others, i.e. to try to understand what others may be feeling. The second is to be "inclusive." There is no benefit to excluding and "freezing out" people. It makes them feel left out, sad, and worthless. As far as we know, we have one life; let's treat each other kindly. Bullies: if you want to do reparations, then teach your kids, students, or friends' kids about the importance of kindness and good feelings that come from being treated nicely with both behavior and language!