Growing up in the late 70’s was very difficult for me because I was a victim of bullying. Thing was, it was so common that nobody did much about it. The bigger kids bullied the smaller ones. The confident kids bullied those who lacked confidence, the sports stars bullied those who sucked at sports. Unfortunately for me, I was a kid who was smaller than most, I lacked confidence, and I sucked at sports. I might as well have had a big bulls-eye painted on my back.
There was a kid in our community whose nickname was Moose. Hell, I think he put that name on himself because he didn’t like to be called ‘Stevie’…he beat a bunch of kids up for calling him that once.
My bullying didn’t only exist in the earlier grades, but that is where it begun. I remember walking into the school late for after lunch classes, bloodied and battered, and the teachers punishing me for being late. Because the kids who I claimed bullied me were athletes, nobody believed me. So in this circumstance, I believe the school system at the time bullied me as well.
There was this one kid, Danny, who was every teacher’s dream kid. He excelled in not only soccer and hockey, but also in his studies. How he found the time to torture me I will never know. My family was very poor when I was younger, and each year, my parents struggled to save enough money to buy my books and school supplies. Every year Danny would steal my books and throw the out or burn them, and he made sure that every pencil I owned was broken into pieces too small to use. For some reason, perhaps the fact that we shared the same last name, he was always paired with me as my locker partner. This did not work to my advantage.
My favorite clothing, including mitts and hats that my grandmother knitted for me would go missing so often that I chose not to wear any. There was no way I could store my boots in my locker, because they would often end up in the girl’s bathroom, and you can guess how that turned out.
Kids who were fortunate enough to attend self defense classes such as Karate or other martial arts often practiced their moves on me, ouch, I can still remember how much I suffered!
Nowadays, I work at a high school, and it puzzles me to see how bullying is still such an issue. Each year the school holds events like Stand Up to Bullying day, Anti-Violence week, etc, but kids are still forced to face the terrors of bullying.
I read somewhere that a new documentary is being made about bullying. I think this is great, but until schools develop a Zero Tolerance rule on bullying, I don’t think the issue will ever go away.
By the way, my bullying problem from the 70’s ended abruptly one June day in 1980, when our graduating class had an outing at a local park. Danny, who thought he was bulletproof and that he had led a charmed life, chose to dive into very shallow water. He hit his head on a rock and died on impact. Although this was a tragic accident, and it took the life of a very young person, I could not find sadness for him at the time. I was shocked at how many other kids felt exactly like I did on that one faithful day.