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Patrice Bendig Headshot

Bullying is Much More Than Child's Play

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Bullying may seem like child's play to some adults or as just one of those areas that everyone goes through. With the recent outburst of cyberbullying, and teenage suicide deaths around the country, it is about time that people understand bullying is not just a kid thing; it's a serious issue that can affect a person's entire life. The act of bullying is based on the harsh words and actions against another person, for simply being in existence. The psychological impact of being ridiculed for just being ones self is devastating, especially to the development child, or young adult's psyche.

Young people across the country are afraid to get an education because they are terrified of what flaw a classmate is going to pick apart on them today. Instead of learning about American history, or nurturing their passion in creative writing, victims are sitting in their desks, waiting for an ambush. Praying that they can survive till 3:00 p.m. without being noticed by anyone, that is how the victims of bullying spend their school day, 180 days a year.

Of course these children will grow up, some will grow out of the awkward stage; while others go on to become successful businessmen and woman. The former victims can hide their troubled past, and lead an outgoing social life, but in the back of their mind, the raw memories of being ridiculed because of a physical or mental trait will be lingering. An adult who was called 'fat' every day in high school could have gone to college miles away from her hometown, and lose 100 pounds, yet every time she enters into a social setting, she will fear people are thinking about how fat she looks, no matter what size she becomes. A former proclaimed 'nerd' can revamp his whole life, by joining a college fraternity and start dating a beautiful woman, but every time he is around adults who resemble his former bullies, he will want to shrink away and hide from the world.

I have personally endured the long term effects of being bullied during my childhood years, especially in grade school. There were children that had wicked tongues sharper than any adult I have ever met, that would pick me apart on various topics, ranging from my appearance, to my personality. As a 10-year-old little girl, I could not make sense of why they were doing this to me, and wanted to hide in a hole forever. Each morning I would beg my parents to let me stay home, and when I was at school, I would fantasize about growing up and becoming richer and more successful that they would be.

By the time I reached high school, I was no longer the target of bullies, but the lasting impact of their jabs still haunted me. My self esteem was shattered, which made making new friends extremely challenging, especially when you have the voice of people ridiculing you. It was hard to believe that someone would want to be my friend, because of my personality, and despite my looks. That internal fear caused me to stay in unfair friendships, and becoming too eager to please people.

Even though I am a grown woman, who is well on her way to a successful career (keeping my promise to my 10-year-old self), there are still times where I have a sense of paranoia that people are judging me, or won't like me because of my clothing, or personality. Every time I go to a social setting with new people, there is a sense of social anxiety that it a constant battle to keep under control. Luckily, I was able to grow into my own woman, and eventually gained an amazing group of supportive friends who take me for who I am. For my own personal beliefs, I strongly believe in karma, and former bullies haven't done much in life, and probably wouldn't even remember what they said to hurt me so many years ago. One jab may not mean anything to a bully after it comes out, but one word can send someone off the deep end.