Bullying can happen to anyone

Staff Writer
The Destin Log
After cross country, track practice and homework, Layne sometimes finds time for water sports as well.

Being in school can be fun, exciting, or sometimes tearful. If bullying is a problem for you, something you have to face every school day, just remember, there are options available to you. 

Hazing and bullying live in the same neighborhood. The difference is subtle but the same power dynamics are involved. The same intimidation tactics are used. In a nutshell, bullying is about exclusion, hazing, and inclusion.

Don’t forget, a bullying culture can exist anywhere humans interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace and even home.  A wasted, hurtful day is a day that is never given to you again as your life bumps along a rough and heart-pounding roadway.

The following is a letter I had delivered to me, which I think might mean different things to a lot of different people. No matter how this letter enters your heart, it was written in the most thought provoking way. This person felt bullied through exclusion from groups, whispers going on behind hands and always sitting alone in the lunchroom. She tells me, “Sometimes I cried, sometimes I tried to be invisible.” Nasty cyber attacks were thrown in her direction and this is what Layne wants other students to know.

 “Hi, I am Layne, an eighth grader, and I live in Destin.  I have a twin sister, Leah, and we now go to a smaller school.  We really do like it because they provide a very good education with small classes and also they help us to make nice friends. It is much easier for us to handle.

If you are unhappy in your school, don’t be afraid to make a change. You are not the problem, whoever is bullying you or making it hard for you is not going to change.

This is my second year of cross-country racing and I like my team so much. It’s my first time to try track and I really like it too. It is better at this school for us to be able to talk to a lot of people. Being with friendly people makes us happy and glad to go to school. I like to make people laugh and smile. Every morning I say to friends and teachers, good morning, I hope you have a good day.”

I turned to a retired schoolteacher living in Destin who was in the school system for many years to get more insight on this subject. I know bullying has been going on for years and will probably be going on in some form or fashion for all eternity. It can be small matters, but small can add up to large emotional trauma.

My teacher contact tells me that during the middle school years, the students are trying to figure out who they are and whom they fit in with. One way they fit into a group is to exclude others. A lot of bullying comes from the insecurity of the bully. Some lack the feeling of empathy for others and do not understand or care about the hurt they fling at others. By making friends laugh at the expense of someone else, they feel more accepted by the group. “I’m like you, they are not.”

I know the schools are trying their best to stop these hurtful attitudes and I applaud their endeavors. However, if all else fails, I think Layne just wanted to offer up a solution that certainly has worked for her and her sister. Warm friendships, a happy heart and acceptance by peers — priceless.

Laura Hall is a long time Destin resident.  She explores local topics sometimes with her cavalier spaniel Annie in tow.,  If you have a good topic, contact Laura at llhall4386@gmail.com.