Being bullied never really goes away.
Ask anyone who has ever been bullied in their life and, if they are honest, they will tell you that, sometimes, they still feel like their 12-year-old self being bullied in the school yard, or in the school hallway. Those feelings of shame, inadequacy, humiliation and fear can hit you from out of nowhere, when you least expect it. The smallest thing can bring back the horrible memories.
Like Sunday nights.
For Ottawa radio personality and Ottawa Senators announcer, Stuntman Stu from Majic100, Sunday nights were a source of extreme stress. Why? Because that meant Monday was fast approaching, and Monday meant it was time to head back to school, and time to face another week of being bullied by a classmate.
Surprised? What? Stuntman Stu was a victim of bulling?
I was shocked. After all, Stu Schwartz is a tall, good-looking, well-known, outgoing and sociable person, with many fans. Certainly not what we would think of as the “stereotypical” victim of a bully.
At the recent BConnected Conference in Ottawa, Stuntman Stu came to present us with his award winning #NoMoreBullies campaign. What started out rather innocently as an “off the cuff” remark made by Stu at the offices of Majic100 a few years ago, has evolved into this inspiring and educational presentation that Stu and his co-workers take to schools all across the Nation’s Capital. Sporting his #NoMoreBullies blue wristband, Stu is taking his message to the kids in the hopes of ending bullying once and for all. It’s a lofty goal, but one that Stu is committed to. From the support I’ve seen for this initiative, and for Stu, he is making a difference in the lives of those who have been bullied, and sometimes, even the bully.
For me, relating to Stu’s #NoMoreBullies presentation was easy. You see, when I was a 12-13 years old, I became the victim of a bully at school. In fact, I was the victim of two bullies, a pair of girls who were best friends and did everything together, including bullying. Thanks to my disability, I was often absent from school during my younger years. This had never been a problem or issue for me – until these two bullies came into my life at school.
For whatever reason, these two girls decided that they could bully me about my absences. Once they started, they were relentless. My days were spent constantly listening to insults, teasing, whispering and name-calling. Because other kids were “afraid” of these two bullies, they started to follow suit. A few of their best friends would join in on the bullying from time to time, while other kids would start to avoid me. I had never dealt with a situation like this before. Up until that point in school I always had plenty of friends, and felt “part of the group”. The bullying wore me down over time, and made me feel worthless. What started as absences from school because of my health, became more absences from school simply because I didn’t want to be there spending my days being bullied.
My home was my refuge from this bullying, and all I wanted to do was stay at home. I had amazing parents who always made me feel safe and loved, and during this period of bullying, I never wanted to leave that safe cocoon.
So did I tell my parents about this bullying? Nope. Not for a long time. No kid wants to tell their parents they are being bullied. Why? Because all that will mean is that they will tell the school, the bullies will get in trouble, and the bullying will get worse. No thank you. There was no way I wanted that to happen. So I kept my mouth shut.
My parents finally found out about the bullying after my absences from school became out of control. I was at risk of failing grade 8. My poor parents had thought I was deathly ill with some sort of weird illness that left me feeling sick all the time. Thanks to the bullying, my body started rebelling from the stress, giving me a constant upset stomach and headaches.
Truth was, I HATED going to school. Just HATED it.
“You should NEVER EVER hate coming to school.”
Those words, spoken by Stuntman Stu during his #NoMoreBullies presentation, slapped me hard in the face. During those 2 years of bullying, I HATED going to school. Relief from bullying came in the form of a new school. My parents took things under control and decided to send me off to a high school in another area – far from the high school where my bullies, and their friends, would be attending. It was the best decision my parents ever made for me.
Far away from my bullies, and the stress of being bullied, I flourished in school. I made all kinds of new friends, became outgoing and sociable, and finally felt like “I belonged”.
BUT…bullying never really goes away. It stays with you for a lifetime. I thought maybe it was just me who felt that way until Stu Schwartz spoke of this in his presentation. For him, even to this day, every Sunday night brings back those horrible memories.
He has learned to deal with those feelings…but they never really go away.
Have you been bullied? Are you a former bully looking to “make amends”? Help Stuntman Stu fight bullies with his #NoMoreBullies campaign. For more information, or to book Stuntman Stu and his team for a presentation at your school, email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow Stu on Twitter @StuntmanStu and on the #NoMoreBullies Facebook page.
Thanks again, Stu, for coming to the BConnected Conference, and for sharing your story and presentation with us.