Personal Essay on Bullying

Chrysta West as an adult.

Chrysta West as an adult.

The voices of young pre-teens echo off the walls of the cafeteria. Paper planes fly high across the room; soft music is playing in the background. The girls sit on one side and the boys on the other, a mixture of seventh and eighth graders. The music stops. The screech of a microphone silences the students and a monotone voice speaks, “Good morning! As all of you know today is the last day of school!!” The students began to cheer. “And yes, I know that you are all excited, especially the eighth graders. You are about to enter into high school,” said Principal Sermones. “We know what usually happens on the last day of school…everyone wants to fight the person they have beef with over the school year. Know that if anyone fights today, you will spend a week in summer school cleaning up! That is all. Enjoy your last day!”

First period. Eighth grade girls athletics; my most hated period of the day. The cattiness of the female group always confused me, which is why I have a tendency to hang around guys. It’s much simpler having guy friends; no drama, no easily hurt feelings and did I mention? NO DUMB GIRLIE DRAMA! However, there are some exceptions. Raven Trigg, who has been my best friend since third grade, and I have been through all of the dumb girl drama together, especially with our archenemy…Raven Huff. Huff was the bully of the school, standing six feet tall since the fifth grade. This girl had it out for me since elementary school. She was the type of bully that be-befriended you and took your lunch money at the same time. More than anyone, she had a love and hate relationship with me. Now, I’m no punk but I was not going to fight a losing battle with the female Goliath. After years of reporting her to the principal, nothing changed. But you know what they say, “A nice person can only take so much!”

“B@$%*! What you say to me?!” “I’m tired of yo’ big manly a@#!,” I screamed to the top of my lungs. Huff laughed, as she and her goonies slowly approached me. The fight circle slowly began to form around us. I breathed deeply and found the courage to say, “I’m tired of you picking on me all the f@#$%*& time…you been wanting me, I’m here now!” I put up my fist. She stood tall and laughed, “This b#$@* really trying to fight me.” I punched her in the face and we began to fight. The strength of David came upon me and to my surprise I whopped her a@$. Her goonies could not have this 4’11 midget beating up on their friend in front of their whole class, so they jumped in and my best friend, Raven followed suite. It then became the ultimate brawl: Raven had two girls on her and there were three girls on me. As I crawled up in a ball, fist and feet hitting me from every angle, the only thought in my mind was, “Where the f%#@ are the coaches to break this s@#& up?!” I looked over and saw my best friend getting jumped for a fight I started, and my emotions ran wild. Somehow, I found strength to escape the pile because I knew the girls would follow me and they’d leave Raven alone. “Get to your locker. Get to your locker!” was the only thought on my mind. I got to my locker and opened it as fast as possible.

My older sister knew of my problems far too well as she experienced them at the same high school I was about to enter. “Here, take this,” she said one day as she handed me a knife. “All you have to do is flash this, they’ll get scared and no one will ever f@#$ with you anymore!” I searched my backpack and found the shiny blade. I flicked it out just in time to see Huff and her four goonies cornering me.

“Bring yo’ a#$ over here,” I said in a stern voice. “B@#$%, you ain’t gon do s@*$# with that,” she said as she approached me and pushed me up against the lockers, while her goonies screamed, “Get her!” in the background. My sister was wrong. This small pebble that David carried did not scare Goliath. The fight would never have never ended unless I did something. It’s crazy how quick the mind runs when in trouble. I pulled back the knife and sliced the knife across her shins. She screamed and her goonies gasped.

I took off running, thinking, “I didn’t kill her, I didn’t kill her. Get home, now.” I found my friend Darius in the hallway and approached him with fear and panic. I asked him to take my knife, hide it and told him I’d explain later. He was like my brother. He said, “sis, I got you.” I took off running home. 30 minutes later. The cops were knocking at my door and I was taken to the police station.

Here I am, a pastor’s daughter in the police office, with a charge of assault from my assaulter of three years. Does that make any sense? To me it didn’t, but according to everyone in the school I was a terrorist. I started the fight; I tried to kill her and I deserved everything that was coming to me. I called my mom and dad to tell them what happened, and I could hear the worry in their voices. When my mom got to the station, she immediately hugged me, knowing that I was not the person they were making me out to be. An hour later, I was released with a court date and paper work.

Bullying has become so common place that it is seen in schools, in the workplace, at home, on playgrounds, in the military, and even in nursing homes. In the article, “Uncovering the Hidden causes of Bullying and School Violence,” Barry K. Weinhold states, “…bullying is the most common type of violence in contemporary US society.” Despite being a form of harassment, it is often reflected as a form of physical or psychological violence. Bullying has several root causes than other types of violence, and may also require different prevention strategies. There are a variety of reasons why people bully:

  • Cultural Causes: The fascination of winning, power, and violence. Experts imply that it is impractical to expect that people will not be influence to seek power through violence. The WWF is a perfect example of glorification of bullying for entertainment’s sake.
  • Institutional Causes: Whether at home, school or the workplace, the high standards for how people treat one another could have a higher chance of a person being a bully.
  • Social Issues: A person who gets more recognition for negative behavior than positive behavior. Also, having envy and a lack of personal social skills can make it hard to deal with such feelings and can cause a person to bully.
  • Family Issues: Families that are not warm and loving, where feelings are not shared are more likely to have children who bully. Another home environment that is prone to producing bullies is one where discipline and monitoring are inconsistent and/or a punitive atmosphere exists, which can lead to sibling bullying.
  • A Bully’s History: Children who experience social rejection themselves are more likely to “pass it on” to others. Children who experience academic failure are also more likely to bully others.
  • Having Power: Some research indicates that the very fact of having power may make some people wish to wield it in a noticeable way, but it is also true that people may be given power without being trained in the leadership skills that will help them wield it wisely. Either situation can contribute to why people bully others.

According to bullystatisitics.org, “Some of the top years for bullying include fourth through eighth graders in which 90 percent were reported as victims of some kind of bullying.” Bullying behavior is typically repeated over a period of time until it becomes a habitual behavior. When we think of bullying, we often think about a physical altercation, or verbal attack. However, bullying occurs in a number of ways. There is verbal bullying, psychical bullying, and the most popular, cyber bullying.

Cyber bullying, which involves the use of technology, like cell phones and the Internet, continues to grow as online social networks become more prominent. Over half of adolescents and teens have been bullied online (10 to 20 percent experience it regularly), and about the same number have engaged in cyber bullying. Cyber bullying often has detrimental outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. Recent bullying-related suicides in the US and other countries suggest there is a strong link between bullying and suicide, coining the term bullycide. Bully victims are between two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University. Students who are bullied are also more likely to have depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood, if they are able to reach adulthood.

Audrie Taylor Potts, 15, committed suicide Sept 10, 2012, about a week after she was allegedly sexually victimized while passed out drunk at a party. At least one photo of the assault went viral on social networks, and Potts fell into despair. “The whole school knows…My life is ruined,” she wrote on Facebook days before the suicide. Three young boys behind the alleged assault were arrested on suspicion of sexual battery and contributing to child pornography. As the case still continues, Audrie’s parents are pushing for a law to be named in her honor. They do not want her death to be in vain, and they have encouraged news outlets to use her to raise awareness to suicide, sexual assault and cyber bullying.

Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. There are a number of ways to prevent bullying and the best way is to stop it before it starts. If you are a parent or a teacher with a child or student who displays behavioral problems like trouble in school, anger management issues, difficulty in keeping friends, having rude and disrespectful behavior or other similar issues, it is important that one seek emotional support through counseling for the child. If you are a teacher, it is important to recommend that the student see the guidance counselor or have the child’s parents take him/her to a counselor for help. In many cases with bullies, the child might have a difficult family or home life and might see domestic violence, emotional abuse and other forms of abuse on a regular basis. They might even be abused or bullied at home by a family member. Children like these need help as soon as possible before they prolong the violent cycle by becoming a bully themselves.

If your child is exhibiting signs and symptoms of being the victim of already existing cases of bullying, there are a few tips and ways to teach them how to handle bullies. One of these ways is to take the matter straight to the source of the bully’s parents or to the teacher or authority figures at the school if the bullying is taking place while at school. Another way to teach your child how to handle bullies is to encourage them to travel in packs and maintain a solid group of friends. Having friends and a support group will make your child less likely to be the recipient of bullying attacks. Lastly, encouraging and building your child or teen’s self esteem in another one of the best ways to handle bullies. Children and teens with higher self-esteem are also not at such a high risk of bullying attacks.

My bullying story is a testament of my strength and growth. After going to court, I was given a probation officer, Officer Hashaway, who ironically was my neighbor and one of my close friend’s Father. I had a hearing with the school board, who planned to expel me from all schools within the district, but with the reports I made on her were three consecutive years of evidence so they were unable to do so. Also, Officer Hashaway spoke on my behalf; he told them that I was a good kid and played at his house with his daughter almost everyday, and felt that I would not doing anything like that unless provoked. Huff, her group and I had to work for a week cleaning up the school as promised, but when we were around each other we had no issues. After my episode with the blade, no one else didn’t fuck with me again just let my sister predicted. They were afraid of me and thought I was crazy. Two weeks before freshmen year, I moved to California, but even then I was still the talk of the high school. Raven would tell me all the things people said about me, “Chrysta is a thug!” “I think she’s crazy!” “Chrysta whooped Huff!” “Nah, don’t fuck with her…that’s Chrysta’s best friend.” She even told me that a rumor went around about how my whole family was gangsters and we got into some trouble, so we had to move to California. Absurd rumors. Years later, when MySpace became relevant, Huff befriended me, commented on my page, my pictures and messaged me. She finally apologized for bullying me throughout the years and told me the real reasons why she bullied me is because she liked me and had a hard time coming out of the closet. The typical middle school answer to knowing if a boy likes you –he picks on you, in my case, she.

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