By Nadine Briggs and Donna Shea
The release of our latest book, Bully Busting and Managing Meanies: Tip for Kids on Managing Conflict, prompted me to think back on my relationships in high school. I was not in the most nor the least popular group in high school but I believe I was liked by most people. I played sports and was in the band and definitely excelled more musically than athletically. At 5’ 8”, everyone told me that I should play basketball so I did. I also quickly learned that being tall was not an athletic skill. The band people were my people and I had decent enough skills to make playing music fun for me. I had a great group of close friends. There were around 6 of us that hung out with a few extras that joined us from time to time. Being part of this group provided me social contentment and I still keep in touch with nearly all them to this day.
I had a male bully in high school. I have chosen not recall the things he did to me but it was verbal abuse, not physical. I do recall, though, a fear that he would physically hurt me. I would get a sick feeling in my stomach whenever I saw him since I never knew when he would verbally attack. His hatred for me always baffled me. I did not have classes with him and I don’t recall ever really interacting with him at all prior to the bullying. The solid friend group that I was fortunate enough to have, bolstered by confidence and lessened his impact on me. I don’t recall how long the bullying went on but I do know how it stopped. I was 16 and had a boyfriend for the first time. The guy that I dated in high school just so happened to be a wrestler and martial arts black belt who played football. He was a big guy for high school and much bigger and more muscular than my bully. It saddens me that it was another’s brawn that stopped this kid from hassling me. As someone who is certified in bullying prevention, I would have preferred that my bully saw the light or the error of his way but my gut tells me that that never happened. I don’t know who he went on to become and I don’t know if he ever thinks back about how he bullied me in high school. Perhaps hating me was too insignificant to him. It doesn’t matter to me now but I am confident that he would have been more ingrained in my memory if I did not have the unconditional acceptance of my friends. Their opinion mattered more than his and it is them who I focused on at that time. It shows that bullies won’t have the impact that they are hoping to have if the victim has a solid friend group supporting them. All these years later, his insignificance is my triumph.