The first time my name was written on a bathroom stall was when I was in the fourth grade. I remember it clearly, like a memory you thought you had from some semi-forgotten nightmare, but it really happened. I remember standing in the stall and staring at my name that had been etched into the door. S-a-r-a. All four letters were there. I was the only Sara without an “h” in my school, so I knew it was me. It had to be.
I don’t remember the words that followed my name, although I can say for sure it wasn’t a positive uplifting complement. Kids can be cruel, even fourth graders, learning from their parents at home and being influenced by other kids at school. I remember the fourth grade. It was the first time in my life I learned how to hate myself.
After that, the bullying came and went through the years, and slowly, but surely, it stopped. I spent a lot of time hating myself while growing up. It took me awhile to realize that the things people said shouldn’t change how I felt about myself. Words have the power to change who you are, only if you give them the power to do so.
However, there are many people in this world who never see light at the end of the tunnel. The experiences I had in school by no means matched the level that many other victims of bullying have endured in their lifetimes. For some, it never stops, and nowadays technology lets it happen 24/7. This constant negativity quickly can eat away at someone. It can ruin a kid's life.
We don’t talk about bullying anymore, simply because we don’t see it happen. Today, kids aren’t finding their names on bathroom stalls, but on Instagram posts. Kids aren’t getting into fights and meeting behind the gym after school, but they are being threatened on Twitter. Today, kids are given iPhones and internet access with the intention of keeping them safe and in close contact. In reality, these things can do more damage than good.
Bullying will never stop, whether we live in a world with smartphones or without. However, it’s time to stop acting like it doesn’t happen anymore. It’s time parents talk to their kids, and it’s time that kids should no longer be afraid to reach out for help. The sooner we realize how serious and relevant bullying still is, the quicker we can help out a few kids in need.