Growing up, I thought that bullying could not be as bad as people said. I had experienced hurtful remarks and even cried a few tears, but it was nothing I could not overcome. It wasn’t until my freshman year of college that I really came to understand the true effects of bullying. As a seventeen year old, I chose to graduate early and leave my beloved home and travel to college. Bright-eyed, I moved into my first apartment. I couldn’t believe that I was finally at BYU, and other than a few aches for home, I was excited to start my adult life. I quickly made friends and felt like everything was going my way. Slowly I began to feel animosity from one of my roommates. When I asked what was wrong or what I did, she promised me everything was fine. But, I knew something was wrong. I began racking my brain to figure out what I could have done wrong. Day by day the situation worsened. As the semester continued, I was tormented by my roommate. Never in my life had I seen someone be so ruthless. While I was spending time away from the apartment with friends or school work, this girl convinced all my other roommates that I was a problem. A bug that needed to be squashed. Each night, as I came home, I was met with a new level of hatred. I quickly learned to come home at the last possible minute and leave before anyone else awoke. But still this tormenting continued. Soon my personal items were being trashed, thrown away, or stolen. When boys came to pick me up for dates, they were met with rude comments about my character or other remarks.
I slowly began to fade away. My very personality was washed away and I soon began to believe these remarks. In fact, I wasn’t very pretty or smart. I didn’t have anything to add to conversations, and I was a bother to everyone around me. I became a person I didn’t recognize. It took a courageous girl I barely knew to save me. One morning while I was still asleep, she snuck into my apartment and moved me out. When I awoke, most of my personal belongings were in a new apartment with a wonderful group of girls who took me under their wing. For months, I had nightmares about this bully. My self-esteem destroyed, I struggled to enter into social situations, which I had always enjoyed. Even my relationship with my family suffered. Now, years later, I cannot look back at this time in my life without deep pain and sorrow. Bullying is not something to joke about or misunderstand. Bullying is life changing and has the power to truly destroy an individual.
As teachers, we must work hard to combat any strife that may befall our students, especially bullies. Today, bullying is an issue that must be addressed as a part of any working classroom. Do not let it happen. As teachers, we have the power to save our students from the pain a bully can cause. Insist on a zero-tolerance policy. Protect your students.