Friday, October 30, 2009

Article #78 School Bullies

Raised as an only child, I never knew that kids were unkind to each other. I had just transferred to Tintic Elementary School from Salt Lake City where my widowed mom had tried to work full time to support us, and go to secretarial school. After experiencing problems with babysitters, she decided we’d move to rural Eureka to live with her mom, my grandma. (Photo l-r: me, Grandma, cousin Jody and her mom Esther-my aunt with cousin Marion in front.)

My new first grade teacher Mrs. Anderson welcomed me to school, but I soon discovered not everyone else was as nice. During recess two girls stopped me in the bathroom and wouldn’t let me return to class. Trying to make me stick my foot in the toilet, I had no idea how to handle this situation except to cry, which got me taunts of cry baby. Finally when the bell sounded, we all returned to class. I was silent about what had happened, fearful of my classmates’ retaliation. I had met my first bullies.

This vivid memory stayed with me, and was never resolved. Years later in junior high school, I would meet another bully in the form of a tall shy girl my own age who rode the same bus as I did. I never understood why she was so mean to me. When it was time for our 50th high school reunion recently, she contacted me via to apologize for her unkind actions long ago forgotten by me. Through conversing with her through emails and a phone call, I began to remember and understand her misbehavior. It seems that she was taunted by other girls at school because she was the minister’s daughter. Then one day she decided out of frustration, after constantly being abused by classmates, to bully someone else. Unfortunately I was the one she chose. (Photo on right mom and me in Eureka.)

While traveling home after school, she had threatened me as we got off the bus. She said she could see immediately in my eyes––tears of fear and hurt, and that really stopped her. She didn't beat me up but only walked away, and had never forgotten that day. She didn't tell anyone about it and especially not her parents. We hadn’t talked about it even though we later went to four years of high school together, and carefully avoided each other. Now after years of feeling guilty about the incident, she apologized. Learning to grow up in a world of bullies wasn’t easy.


  1. Very touching story. I don't think I was ever bullied in school. Maybe Asians are more tactful and obedient. Most of my classmates were Asian. I, myself, am Korean-American.

  2. How wonderful that the girl who bullied you apologized after all these years. How many can say that they would apologize for something awful they did to someone else? I still remember being in Kindergarten and watching my classmates bullying a boy in our class, me not daring to say a word. I have always felt badly about it, even though I was just a by-stander. It made an impact on me.

  3. It's a good reminder to me that kids really don't forget events that roused strong emotional responses. And also the "Bullies" frequently have serious conflicts of their own that they are dealing with.
    Interesting story.

  4. Oh Lin, I am sorry about those experiences for you! But how wonderful that the one girl would connect with you all these years later to make it right.

  5. I am glad she apologized. Meanie that I am, I hope she suffered when she grew into the realization that she had done wrong. Bullies are sad characters. Getting through to them can be a challenge.

  6. That was very nice closure for the both of you. I'm so sorry you had to deal with such nasty bullies.

    My mother tells me bullying is quite prevalent in Japanese schools. I don't know why. It's really sad.

    Like Gigi, growing up in Hawaii was different. I never saw a case of bullying. Kids really tried to be caring of others. Thank goodness.

    Wait.... I do remember one case where the boys were taking the food off of a shy boy's tray. I remember trying to be extra friendly to that shy boy later. He died before high school of kidney disease.

    Oh dear... this is bringing back some sad memories.

  7. Lin,it must have been so difficult for you...but at least this friend of yours realized her mistake initiated clearing up the matter between both of is very rare.

    Teachers in my country are provided a lot of power ,so it gets very difficult for the students to get unruly or bully the other students....exceptions are every where.At college level new students are subjected to inhuman treatment in the name of ragging ,another kind of bullying,but now we have very strict laws and rules against it.

  8. Bullying is such a mean thing, and those memories do hang around forever. I was always on the lookout for it in my classroom and school.

  9. Oh we had a 5 bullies in our neighborhood and it was always a struggle...It makes me want to contact them now....