Middle schooler speaks out on bullying

Brooklyn Smithson, an eighth grader in the Greene County School’s home school assistance program, spoke to the school board about bullying during the open forum of the board’s March 21 meeting. She told of being the target of bullying that led her to self-harm, and she suggested steps parents and the school district should take.

Brooklyn wrote her speech for a public speaking assignment, and after delivering it for the smaller home school group, she wanted to share it with a larger group. She was introduced to the board by home school assistance teacher Marla Orfield.

Brooklyn told GreeneCountyNewsOnline she was bullied last year at the middle school, and that’s why she has been home schooled this year. She shares her heartfelt speech with GCNO readers:

“My stomach hurts and I have headaches every day. The kids are spreading rumors and telling secrets. The looks, smirks, and comments have become more than I can handle. Is there something wrong with me? Am I really what they say I am? Why have I gained weight with this group of so-called friends? Why am I so skinny with that group of so-called friends? Why am I wearing the same outfit but mine means I am poor and yours means you are better than me? By now you know I am talking about the bullying in our school system. Have you ever been bullied?

“People have different opinions on what bullying is. There is no “official” definition but I tend to believe being a bully is anything that a person does on purpose to upset or hurt another person in any form. Every person deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. I feel bullies are criminals because they steal your self-worth, your happiness and your life. A person can be bullied over race, gender, clothes, hair, make-up, financial status, grades, who you are related to, being gay/lesbian, and yes, even for being straight. You can be bullied over imaginary things or on things that are real in your life, that is not the same as someone else’s. Pretty much a bully doesn’t care and they can find fault in anything You will never be right or good enough for a bully.

“I was bullied because of everything. There is nothing special or important about me in the eyes of others. It started when I had a bad asthma attack and almost died. I was put on steroids that made me gain weight. I also had what they called “absent seizures” where I would lose track of time and not know what happened. My clothes, no matter how much they cost or if they were the same as others were wearing, were wrong. At one point the kids found out I was adopted and that became how I wasn’t wanted from the time I was born. If I showed the smallest bit of weakness or they thought something about me was a weakness, then they focused on it and picked at me until I broke. Eventually the hurt and anger took over and I hated everyone, including myself. Honestly, I an say especially myself.

“My anger led me to self-harm. To this day I still don’t understand why or what about it made me feel better, but I know the pain was nothing compared to what I felt in my heart and head. I felt I deserved everything that had happened to me and that I was everything bad they thought I was. People say it’s for attention, but for me, I did not want anyone to know and I did not want attention drawn to me. Lat thing I wanted was to give people more reason to hate me. All I could focus on was destroying the horrible person I saw in the mirror.

“Bullying is just like a disease because you don’t make it happen and it does not just go away. Bullying makes you feel like something is wrong with you! The people who are hurting you take away all control of your life. The control how you feel, what you say, do, eat, drink, how you dress, behave, view yourself and others. You no longer think for yourself and every day becomes a challenge of survival. You become physically sick and wonder how you will make it through another day. You push everyone away, even family, because the thought of them seeing who you really are is more than you can bear.

“It is not your fault if you get bullied. Bullies are generally someone who has insecurities about themselves or have bad things going on in their life so they have to make others feel bad to make themselves feel better. This is what is told all the time. Did I believe it The answer is “no” because you hurt so bad you see them as perfect and who you are as worthless. This is something I have learned but still struggle with seeing and believing.

“People are not born bullies. It is a learned behavior and behaviors can be changed. Many people are unaware of the bullying that happens around them. That just shows how bad it is that so may people have become desensitized to it. What may seem like kids being kids could be destroying who someone is as a person. Something as simple as not being included can make you feel like you are all alone and have nobody. It feels like you got punched right in the stomach as you sit back and watch them interact and relate to each other and know you weren’t worth a thought to them.

“What are the different types of bullying? Statistics show that there are six different types of bullying: physical, verbal, indirect, social alienation, intimidation, and last but not least, cyber bullying. Any form of bullying gives you such an empty, helpless feeling. When it continues over time, you stop fighting to believe in yourself and just believe you are the mistake that deserves to be hurt and shouldn’t be alive and breathing their air. These days students bring guns to school to kill their bullies and end up injuring many others, too. What these kids wish to kill is the pain, hurt and anger. Other people that have been bullied during their life commit suicide. Yes, suicide! Can you imagine your child causing another child to take their life or even to be the child who ends their own life?

“This issue needs to be addressed. The best way for you to make this happen is to talk to others. Have a discussion in your class and make a set of rules to put an end to it. Have every student present an idea on what they feel it will take to end the problem. Having the kids be part of the solution encourages change.

“Like most things, change begins at home. Every parent needs to step up and have a very open conversation on the subject. Every parent needs to make it very clear this behavior is unacceptable. It is also parents’ responsibility to set the standards their child will be held to, as well as create a set of consequences for anyone displaying this unacceptable behavior. Parents also need to set an example and behave in a way that teaches the children to care about others rather than hurt and compete with others in any way that is not sports-related.

“The school needs to follow through with the anti-bullying standards they set. The next step is to create an anti-bullying team.

“In conclusion, if you are bullied do not be afraid to stand up for yourself! Just be strong, keep your head help up high and do your best to get help and not give the bully the power over you. Remember, school bullying is everyone’s responsibility!

“Thank you for listening and good bye.”

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