A tragic national news story came right from my very own backyard when 12-year-0ld Ronin Shimizu of Folsom,Calif. committed suicide last month after being bullied continuously because he was the lone male cheerleader on an all-girl team.
After hearing the tragic news of Shimizu’s premature death, my heart very much sank because I knew exactly what it was like to be bullied in school.
When I was in high school, I didn’t have the best experience. I didn’t fit in and absolutely did not belong at this school whatsoever. A lot of the kids were mean to me. I remember my freshman year when walking to gym class every morning and the same guy walked passed me calling me a “faggot”. I may or may not have done so, but I may have asked why he kept calling me that and he said “Because you’re a faggot”. In retrospect, I should’ve fought the guy. There are other numerous things that happened in my three and a half years at that school, but I don’t want to bore everyone with all that and describing them would take forever.
In addition to the students being awful to me, teachers were very unhelpful and some even making fun of me to my face, and the curriculum was very difficult. As a result, I didn’t do well in school, I struggled to make friends and have the confidence in myself to be something more than I was. I eventually left that school midway through my senior year and went to independent studies where I graduated with a 3.12 GPA and one day ahead of my former peers.
In my view, bullying has gotten 10 times worse since I was last in grade school in 2000. Back then, we didn’t have social media sites like Facebook,Twitter,or even MySpace where kids could bully us for all the world to see. I have seen kids get bullied before on social media,one in particular because someone posted on his Facebook that he was a “fag”, which I don’t believe to be true, I just believe this person was a horrible person trying to get a rise out of someone. It’s absolutely disgusting!
So what can schools do to curtail this? Well,apprarently a zero tolerance policy that’s in place now clearly isn’t working. New policies that can really make a difference for kids who are victims of bullying need to be put in place. Maybe suspending them for a long period of time or removal of that child altogether. I’m just kinda spitballing ideas at this point, but it’s something to think about.
I will say this, bullying itself isn’t going to go away. That kind of thing can happen to us throughout life,whether you’re 12,or 32,or 52. But we can work on being nice and tolerant of one another to make this world a better place. If we can start this new year on that kind of note,I think we’re getting somewhere!