To Be Different (A Personal Story)

One thing I know is true, I didn’t look different. So I know that I wasn’t bullied because I somehow looked a way that I couldn’t change. But for those victims of bullying that tell tales of having a handicap that made them different and thus a victim of bullying, there was no hiding. Kathy shares her story below of being different and dealing with the taunting and teasing that came just because of that. ~Alan Eisenberg

Let me start by saying that I was born with a condition called hydrocephalus (or in laymens’ terms “water on the brain” ) Because of it,my head is bigger than normal. No one made a big deal about it until junior high (7th grade) I was called “Frankenstein” ,”retard” , “Martian”, “deformed head” , the list goes on and on.

So I figured I’d explain WHY my head was bigger than normal. (Knowledge is power, right? ) I was in a slower learning group of students.(one step above Special Education but one step below regular classes) So I explained what hydrocephalus was. The teasing was made MUCH worse! “Water brain” was included to the taunts. An overweight boy teased me as well. My parents knew of the teasing. So my father (with his great sense of humor.) told me I should ask the overweight boy,”Who makes your pants…Omar the Tentmaker?”Unfortunately it backfired because the boy responded,”No. Why? Does he make your hats?”

I was also pushed, shoved, had my locker broken into. One afternoon (without my knowing it.) one of the boys put a pencil up his rear end. He told me to smell it (claiming it was a new type of flower scented pencil) So (stupidly) I smelled it and everyone laughed.

On the last day of school a rotten egg was thrown at me. It was then that the teacher for most of my classes, a social worker ,my guidance counselor,my parents and I got together for a meeting and discussed that I be mainstreamed for 8th grade. (This couldn’t have been done DURING the year when I was going through hell?!) A slightly happy ending though. The overweight boy apologized 3 years later (To me ,he shouldn’t have said anything anyway. But I accepted his apology).

I just wish bullying hadn’t been tolerated YEARS ago! The bad memories of 7th grade will ALWAYS be in my mind. In September, my 11 year old niece will be going to middle school. Thank goodness she isn’t handicapped in any way. But I’m still scared for her.

Thank you for reading this.

Kathy H.

3 thoughts on “To Be Different (A Personal Story)

  1. Your story is sad and frustrating. What is worse is that it is still happening daily in our schools despite the talk of bullyproofing our schools. I had one of my patients commit suicide one week into the school year due to bullying. I have another who has suicidal thoughts and in his case it is not only students who are bullying and threatening him but administration who are doing it to him and his mother. Right now I am helping them mount a legal defense. There is still too much work to be done to change this environment of “no see” “no hear” and too many youth at risk of leaving us through suicide. And there doesn’t have to be a physical difference, it could be just a difference in how they accept or don’t accept the status quo. Stay in touch with your niece so that she doesn’t fall into that trap.

    • While I think that “bullyproofing” our schools is worthwhile, in the end I believe that it can’t completely stop bullying. Unfortunately there will always be bullies in our world. The part I would like to see is that we have better training and method for the recovery of the victims of bullying and the bullies themselves. It is the way the victims feel that leads to the suicides and I think we don’t focus on the recovery through our bullyproofing programs, we only focus on the prevention. We need to better understand the damage from bullying or being a bully and try to help those people recover.

  2. Bullying is less tolerated than it was not because of increased public sympathy for the victims, but because a tiny percentage of the victims have staged school shootings and other media worthy events. The problem is best approached by appealing to the self interest of the public, not by appealing to their non-existent empathy for the victims.

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