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It Can Happen Anywhere

I was a target for the frightened few who are mean to the different.

There has been a lot of talk of bullying lately.  The heartbreaking suicide of one our own teens has brought the dialogue home.  I don’t know if his tragic decision was caused by bullying.  I do know one thing--it can happen anywhere.  

We live in a beautiful township.  The arts--from architecture to music--is actively encouraged and shared.  As with any other area with a lively arts community, different points of view are more welcome than elsewhere.  

East Hampton High School, in my experience, reflects these surroundings, presenting an openness to creativity and diversity.  Even with all of that, we are still dealing with human beings, with all their flaws and fears.  Bullying happens in East Hampton.  It did to me.

I was a target for the frightened few who are mean to the different.  I guess my flannel shirts and oversized jeans and lack of boyfriend made me easy to label.  Lyme had given me a crooked smile and a wink.  The verbal and physical violence came in brief bouts, difficult for a teacher to detect, difficult for me to get over.  

For most bullied kids, I suspect it is like this. Lonely in their misery, with no adult able to see it, they struggle through a period of life that is already filled with growing pains.  Being around their peers, so important to a teen, can be scary.  Being accepted is a dream.  Most suffer in silence, fearing reprisals.

Still, for most, it gets better.  It certainly did for me.  I took refuge in the art rooms, drawing, painting and sculpting.   My work was hung in the hallway for years.  I made friends with other girls who weren’t chasing boys and boys who weren’t jocks.  We’d walk the halls together.  

If only every teen being victimized could find refuge and a safe space.  I was lucky in where I went to school.  The teachers didn’t look away when they saw something.  Most of my fellow students were very fine human beings.  And now they have support groups at EHHS.  Marginalized kids don’t seem to have any support at many other high schools.

That’s sad.  It’s the ones who approach life differently, who think outside of the box, that often change the world in their own little ways.  They are precious to our community.  And the kids that bully damage themselves.  They have a higher adulthood suicide rate.  We can each do our own part to save all the kids.  Keep our eyes open.  Spread the word that “It gets better.”  We need to do this, because bullying can happen anywhere.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Shrinkgirl October 20, 2012 at 03:47 PM
You have a beautiful spirit and your comments will help others.
PJ Delia October 20, 2012 at 04:10 PM
thank you!
Bean October 21, 2012 at 12:34 AM
Bullying is a beat down close to death by seven guys in 1975. What your talking about is light. What do you want to do end a strong person, jocks are bad? what a weak wimpy reliant on gov't world you want. When one decides to check out that's it, focus on education on suicide rather than looking for causes. Focus on explaining to children that feelings aren't facts, that's where the rubber meets the road. Focus on giving children self confidence and thicker skins please.
Shrinkgirl October 21, 2012 at 03:16 AM
Are you high? Think about this comment in the "light"of day. Strong people have compassion for others. Beautiful jocks have compassion for others. Strong, self confident children have compassion for others. xx
Cardinal Robbins October 22, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Bullying also breeds violence. I was bullied in the first grade and my biological mother tried to get the school to intervene, but they wouldn't. I'd come home with my clothes ripped from being beaten up, so she finally gave me permission to fight back. And I did. Long story short, there was an incredible amount of domestic violence and abuse in my home life, but being bullied at school meant that I fought back -- giving the school system two problems instead of one. They had bullies, and then they had me, a true brawler and unafraid fighter, at that point. Violence at such a young age follows you. In whatever grade or whatever school I was in, when bullied physically, I fought back physically when warranted. Verbally? I used the English language as an epee, still do when it's justified. I was different, too; planning to head for medical school, my grades set me apart as much as my clothing did. I hung with few people, mostly in the library since I was a voracious reader and dedicated writer in high school. After being bullied so much, changing my attitude was difficult, but happened over time; my violent background has made me edgy, cautious, able to protect my family with the vigilance of a Secret Service agent and the physicality of a trained bodyguard. On the outside, you'd never know, unless you knew me extremely well. On the inside, bullying was a factor that helped strip away my childhood and made me grow up very quickly...and it's left it's mark.
Shrinkgirl October 22, 2012 at 05:39 PM
Thank you for sharing this. You sound amazing, sensitive, strong.
PJ Delia October 22, 2012 at 05:41 PM
Cardinal, you are strength and wit. I forgot to mention that the smart kids get bullied. I was a called "The Computer". If that is not backward to what should happen to kids with good grades... I'm glad you took the bad things and used them to your advantage wherever you could.
june October 25, 2012 at 04:30 AM
I can remember some very intense situations growing up. I think if you were just "different" in nature it drew others to you who felt more " powerful". I could name a few situations- which now-even at this age still seem like yesterday. My brother Patrick was my hero during one of these episodes-when I was bullied out of my Trick or Treat candy - he handed over his and begged for the kid to let me keep mine. Yes the memories of how others treat you -remain forever inside-leaving one to figure out how to handle them and not let them destroy you at that tender teen age.

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