DISCUSSION - Is bullying in books unrealistic to you?

Monday, August 4, 2014

I know I've talked about bullying on here before (you can read that here!), but I want to expand on those thoughts a little more today. Mostly because I just read Mortal Danger by Ann Aguirre (it comes out tomorrow!), and it talks a lot about horrible bullying in high school, and because I recently read a review that said the type of bullying in it was unrealistic, because teachers would do something about that, right? (Wow, that's a lot of becauses) But I'm sorry, that isn't entirely how it goes anymore. Well, at least, in my case, it wasn't.

The teachers did nothing when it happened to me.

Over the course of at least three months, I...

  • was repeatedly called any and every explicative you could think of in the halls. Be as creative as you can. Because those creative variations and probably worse are what was yelled throughout hallways I walked through all day with teachers standing outside their doors. They didn't say a word about it, and it continued.
  • was blasted all over social media. Back in the day, huge posts were full of scathing accounts of what a horrible person I was over bulletins on MySpace.
  • received threats, verbal and written, daily. I was even sent pictures of the guns these people planned on shooting me with. I took all the messages to the principal. Nothing was done.
  • one parent of the bullies started calling my school and saying that I was the one threatening their kids, and that my date and I planned to bring guns to prom. Still, nothing was done to the bullies. Me? I was the one who was questioned by the same principal who did nothing about the threats I showed her that were sent to me.
  • received daily blocked phone calls describing the gruesome ways they planned to kill me. The one that sticks out the most is where they told me they were going to cut me up into a million pieces and put into tupperware dishes.
It took me three tries with the police before anything was ever done.
I finally got a VPO, and everything stopped for the most part after graduation. To this day, I still get calls from a blocked number every once and awhile from these same people. It's been five years.

Of course, this is a drop in the bucket compared to what Edie, the MC in Mortal Danger, goes through. I can't say what she goes through, because spoilers, but it's pretty bad. However, my whole point to this discussion is that just because it sounds horrible does not mean that it doesn't happen. Because it does. 

There were kids in my class who got the shit beat out of them, because they were gay. The teachers did nothing, even though they knew who did it. Fights happened in between classes, and teachers never showed up to stop it. Occasionally they did, but all too often, they didn't. I don't live in the ghetto, or some bad town either. Most of the kids that I went to school with come from middle to higher income homes. Yeah, I'm sure there were gangs or whatever, but I never saw any of that. 

Again, kids are capable of doing horrible shit these days. When my niece was about 6, she was bullied and beat up by another 6 year old on the playground, and the teachers were sitting right there!!! My sister was waiting in her car to pick up my niece, and since she was sitting outside the playground, she saw it. Guess what? They did nothing about it. 

But because all of these instances weren't stopped by teachers, does that make the bullying unrealistic? Does that mean that it couldn't happen? It's frustrating to me how blindsided most of our country is to bullying. Sure, it's better than it was, but it's unnerving what is still going on these days, and to say that it seems unrealistic is ridiculous. Watch the news any given day of the week, and it will prove how this is actually a realistic problem in our society. 

I may sound a bit harsh, but talking about bullying always gets me riled up. I can't say why kids/teens do the things they do, and if I could, I would be worried, because that would make me the same as them. I don't want to understand it, but I can learn from it, and try to help those that are going through these highly likely situations. In my case, much like Edie's, the "beautiful" or "popular" people always get away with stuff. I related to that 100%, because they were the same way at my school. Exactly the same. 

Some of you might not understand it, and that's completely fine, but saying that it's unrealistic is unrealistic. In my opinion, this type of bullying is all too realistic, and it needs to be stopped.

For all my readers/friends that may be struggling with any type of bullying and need an outlet or someone to talk to, I'm here for you. Don't be scared to contact me through twitter, or any way you want to. I'll be your shoulder to cry on. Not many people have one of those when they go through something like this. Edie didn't. But luckily, I had my parents. (FYI they're pretty much my best friends) But whether you have no one or someone, I'm still here if you need something. I care about you, and referring to Mortal Danger one last time, suicide is never the answer. EVER. Talk to someone. 

Okay, I lied. Last thing regarding Mortal Danger, I applaud Ann Aguirre's risk of talking about this type of bullying. It is real. It does happen. Thank you for writing about it, Ann. 

Let's discuss! This isn't a sympathy post. I've come to terms with my bullying. However, you've read my thoughts about bullying. What are some of yours? 
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  1. I'm very sorry to hear about all those things that happened to you, Becca. More often than not nothing gets done - and even if they try to do something, it's not effective. I've been lucky enough to not get bullied, and I've always tried to protect my friends if anyone was mean towards them. But not everyone has that, and the bullying can get very, very bad.

  2. Bullying in books is definitely realistic to me. I had a problem back in middle school where a boy kept sexually harassing me, and his girlfriend (I'm still amazed he even had a girlfriend, because his personality was so disgusting) turned around in class one day, slapped me, and cursed me out. Eventually, I went to the principal because it escalated further with the two of them constantly making my life miserable. Fortunately, it all stopped after that, and the girl and I were on decent terms for the rest of middle & high school. But still, my teacher did nothing. She watched that girl slap me in class, looked me right in the eyes, and kept on teaching.

    I also had another incident where a teacher was the one bullying me in high school. I put up with that guy for three years, and the administration did nothing (even though he was also bullying other students besides me). It amazes me that a person so cruel, who enjoys mocking and belittling his students, could become a teacher.

    People sent you pictures of guns?! Oh my gosh. I'm sorry you experienced all of that. Kids and teenagers can be so vicious, and it's sad. Bullying is a serious problem.

    "the "beautiful" or "popular" people always get away with stuff" -- unfortunate, and true. Same way when I was in school. That's why I think literature about bullying - the more vicious side of it - is important. It reminds readers that this is happening, and we need to be more proactive in stopping it.

    Wonderful post! Truly, this is an important topic.

  3. Bullying unrealistic? That can only come from someone that not only has not suffered it but lives in la la land!
    Willing ignorance only makes a problem like bullying worse!
    I was lucky enough I was never bullied in high school, I remember a few snickers and pointed looks at on my freshman year from a group in my class, but for the rest of the time, I had my own small group and was mostly out of the cliques entirely. Never popular, but always doing my own thing, no one bothering me.

    I cannot even imagine how awful it must have been for you, Becca dear! *big hugs* and I can't even imagine why anyone would be so fixated to still be with the calls and the threats! Theirs must be a sad life indeed if they need to continue doing that!

    Big props to you and big hugs girl, you're one hell of a strong woman and you're amazing!

  4. Though I was never horribly bullied myself, during an afterschool session (waiting until our parents could come pick us up) and my little brother, who was probably in second grade at the time, was beaten up. I looked across the gym (very open floor plan and about 5 teachers stood at the other end talking) and a large kid in his grade was pounding him with his backpack full of books. I ran to tell the teachers and they did nothing until I punched the kid, and then I was the one who got in trouble.

    I know a lot of people mean well, and I'm sure there are teachers out there who stop it (our HS was pretty good about a zero tolerance policy), but there are definitely some who don't. It's a shame, and I hate it so much, people just need to be aware.

    But we're all here for you, and don't hesitate to reach out if you want to chat!
    Big hugs!

  5. So...let me try to reformulate that giant comment I tried to leave once already. Blogger is an asshole >.<

    ...the "beautiful" or "popular" people always get away with stuff.
    Sad but true! This is a wonderful post, and I applaud you for talking about such a tough issue!

    I had an incident similar happen, not to me, but to a good friend of mine in high school. For anonymity let's call her "Allie." There was this really creepy guy in our graduating class, we'll call him "Norman." One of Allie's friends that was also friends with Norman came to her concerned with a printed AIM conversation where Norman described in gruesome detail what he was going to do to Allie. Another friend of ours went with Allie to bring this matter the principle. Guess what the principle said? He wanted to keep it on the DL because he didn't want our school's reputation to suffer. They never brought it to the police. All they did was make sure that in the classes that Allie and Norman shared, their chairs were across the room for each other. That's it.

    I think people who've never experienced anything like that can't understand because they don't know that it really does happen. Many people turn a blind eye to things like this because they think, "Oh they're just kids, what's the worst that could happen?" But even though something may not physically happen, it's the emotional damage that lasts.

    I was a victim of bullying in school, too, just not to the extent that you were. I was called mean names, made fun of, and harassed emotionally (and on occasion physically - one girl down my street hit me a couple times and put gum in my hair). I know what those things do to you. Even now, over 10 years later, I still have issues with confidence every now and then.

    I'm truly sorry that you had to go through something so terrible. I just hope that now with years passed you can find some closure and move past it - I know what kind of toll it can take. Hopefully now they'll leave you alone. But guess what? You're a stronger, better person than they are. Never forget that.

  6. I'm sorry you had to go through that. What they did to you was really over the top and though I'm aware of it, I can't possibly come to terms with the teachers' ignorance. I mean, it's ridiculous! They ought to protect you. Not only because you are one of their students, but becase you are a human being who are being threatened with death! Let me explain what I mean a bit. Let's suppose there is a girl in my school who I don't know, never have spoken with. One day, I'm walking down the hall and witness as two other "popular" chicks beat her up. What do I do? I help her, because she needs help and I am not utterly cruel. And I must ask; who wouldn't? How cruel a person have to be in order to see somebody suffer and not do anything at all? It's sheer, unadulterated cruelty. Sorry if I sound hard or unkind, but I'm just indignated. I take these sort of situations to my heart, being a victim myself, though not as much as you were. It still caused long term problems some of which I'm still fighting with.

    Because, like, I was literally bullied into anorexia and depression. I became a kind of shell, a waning one that is, that didn't do anything. Didn't talk, didn't move unless it was unavoidable, and didn't show any sign of emotions. However, having lost the reason why my classmates started bullying me didn't help, nor pretending to not feel. They picked up on something else; my vegetative state. They would call me corpse or zombie. They did it in class, right in front of the teacher. She can't have possibly not heard it. No, she just ignored it.

    They never called a ceasefire. I only was reprieved when I went into high-school. Fortunately, none of my classmates applied to the same school and I had a quite decent year. I wasn't teased or taunted, though I wasn't popular either. Not like I wanted that, I hardly can talk in front of other people now. And I made a couple of friends. However, towards the end of the year everythign started to downfall big time. That's where the school year left off so I don't know what it'll be like from now on. It seems I'm just doomed to be alone as a pariah. I don't know.

    Sorry for the long rant. Or if it didn't much make sense. I rarely share this story with anybody. All in all, I hope you'll be free from the threatening completely and that one day people will become aware of the seriousness of bullying among teenagers and will do something to handle it, maybe even do something againts it.

  7. I'm so sorry you had to go through that and I'm so proud of you for not only being willing to share your experiences to help others but to have actively tried to do something about it. I think too often kids being bullied are scared to say anything because they don't think adults will do anything (which sadly can be true) and that by saying something the bullying will get worse (which it can if adults do nothing). See I'm circling around the problem, which you identified with from the outset by saying "I recently read a review that said the type of bullying in it was unrealistic." As long as adults trick themselves into believing that bullying really isn't that bad, bullying will just get worse. And it's so much worse with social media, able to haunt kids even after they leave school.

    In fact, I think bullying is worse at schools that are upper middle class because that introduces an element of entitled kids (and parents) who are able to get away with so much. At poor schools where gangs and stuff are expected, teachers and principals are quicker to act and have more power to do so, because no one is untouchable.

    Ugh! Apparently this hit a sore spot with me and I never was a victim of bullying. Great post, sorry for the rambling comment lol

  8. Bullying is a trigger topic for me too - I struggled with Tease by Amanda Maciel because of the harsh reality of it. And I agree with you one million percent. I was bullied too, and in some/most cases teachers didn't intervene, not even when a fight broke out in the middle of the classroom, similar to you as well I was the one who was made to look like the problem by the "popular" girls. I wrote a short story about it a few years ago and it's being published in an anthology on bullying, I should actually do a post about it. For a long time I didn't want to speak up (especially on a public forum) because having been bullied it kind of made me feel like highlighting it would only draw unwanted attention to me. I'm so over that now, 6-8 years since the bullying stopped it's interesting to see where I am now, and where they all ended up... The education system really needs to open its eyes where bullying is concerned, because most of the time it's useless!

    R x


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