Beyond Babedom

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Shame on Me

Let me warn you upfront: this post is  not going to be funny or entertaining. It’s going to be a confession.

Every time I read about 15 year old Phoebe Prince, the girl who could no longer face the harassment, taunting, threats and stalking and took her own life, it makes me cry – and cringe. I realize how easy it is to become one of those bullies, because I was one once, too. I didn’t think I was a bully at the time and most people who know me now (or knew me in high school) would probably be surprised at this confession. So, I’d like you all to give this some serious thought and go back to your high school days and think about whether or not you are as guilty as these girls in South Hadley, Massachusetts.

I was always the one who stood up for the underdog: befriending overweight Elizabeth Wotman, who was terrorized and teased in the 3rd grade when she moved to Keyport from NYC; admonishing another sophomore who was pinching Janie G., the “slow” girl in class. But I used – in concert with my friends – some of the same techniques as these girls in South Hadley when Debbie LaBirdo “stole” Kathy M’s boyfriend.

We made up songs about her,  said cruel things when she passed in the hallway, drew crude pictures, all used the same hand gestures when she passed (“Bird woman!!”). It went on for weeks, maybe longer. Poor Debbie. Luckily, none of my friends were really cruel, so eventually it ended for Debbie and we all actually became friends with her. But I never realized, until now,  just how horrible it must have been for her.

And we didn’t have the tools and the techniques now available for bullying: texting, emailing, social media. Poor Phoebe had no safe haven.

I wrote an earlier post about a bullying incident I had to deal with in high school, but never realized I was just as guilty.

I urge any of you who have daughters or nieces or access to young girls to remind them that it isn’t funny or cute or right to bully. It’s sad and it demeans us.

And it can have terrible consequences.

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 9th, 2010 at 1:22 PM and is filed under Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

  1. Hal Holst says:

    Good post. You can sometimes discover things about yourself upon reflection that can be somewhat troubling.

  2. m.steinmetz says:

    Having survived my share of bullying…once because my boyfriend didn’t like a girl that liked him…she thought throwing chocolate cream pie at me in the lunch room, would ….what? …make him like her. Now, that made so much sense. What I figured out, at a young age, was the bullies traveled in a pack (like dogs)…numbers made them brave…which I took to mean they were insecure individuals. I believe some of those experience made me a stronger person ….and looking back over those days it is easier for me to live with being bullied..than to live with the fact, that I, was a bully. My heart breaks for Phoebe and her family…more should have and could have been done.

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