Bullies come in all sizes and shapes. Mine was 8 feet tall, had a face covered with hair and a booming voice that made you squint. At least that is how, as a small seventh-grader, I saw this ninth-grader each morning when I boarded a bus headed for my new school.
Standing up in the back of the bus, the bully towered over smaller students, aggressively aiming his voice at anyone he locked eyes with. Everyone’s plan was to face the front and try to stay off his radar.
One day, he caught up with me while getting off the bus. He said that if I got back on the bus the next day he would beat me up. While he was short on details, his reputation — earned or not — preceded him.
And when someone has you by a perceived 100 pounds and is covered in facial hair, you don’t feel inclined to find out.
The next day I ran to class. And the next. And then again. School was only a couple miles away and it seemed like a reasonable solution. Truth be told, I essentially ran from the bully.
Bullies are everywhere. The reality is, however, not everyone can run from their bullies in today’s world.
Last week when The Daily News launched the first installment in our “Bullied to the Brink” series, readers throughout Galveston County suddenly discovered long-buried and painful memories reawakening.
The subject of bullies runs deep and wide. In our own offices, people opened up like I’ve never seen before. I witnessed a lot of pain, shame and anger. Some of it was decades old; some was from people trying to help their own kids through this ugly chapter of life.
Bullies never really know how deeply they affect people or for how long. But bullies at their core are cowards, so other’s feelings are most likely not a concern.
Today, decades later, I still can see the face of the bully who told me not to get on the bus the next day.
As the painstakingly researched series reveals, bullies are not new. But we may have reached a point in time when we need to push the effects out into the bright light of public examination.
Recently, a high school student told me about how bullies, with social media, have so many more tools to attack others. He’s right and we should listen.
It is time we step up and recognize bullying for what it is — a violent action against another that deserves punishment.
We need to educate students and parents that bullying will not be tolerated. And if you are deemed a bully, you will be removed from society so you can’t hurt others.
I cannot stomach the death of another teenager due to bullying. And you shouldn’t either.
Please read today’s piece in The Daily News on cyberbullying. Unfortunately, today’s solutions are not nearly as simple as running to school in the morning.