Whether you realize it, you have been a bully, or been a bystander, or been a victim of bullying.
Most of us just choose to turn our backs or refuse to believe that what we see is bullying. Instead, especially with boys, it’s often cast off as “boys being boys messing around.” But it’s plain and simple: If you aren’t sticking up for the victim or turning away yourself, you are advocating the bully.
Two years ago, I moved to Greenville with my mom and sisters hoping for a fresh start. We had visited often because it’s where my mom grew up. I knew Greenville as a town out of the way from some of the horrors of real life. A town where most people will smile and say “Hello,” genuinely glad to see you even if they don’t really know who you are.
However, shortly after moving here, I discovered the exact opposite among my peers. I discovered reality. For the next year and a half to come, I fell into a deep depression because I could never get on top of the bullying.
First I was taunted for my clothes, then my personality. The torment never stopped. I remember during the first few months I was here, a student looked me in the eye and said, “I bet we will scare you away before a year.”
I was horrified, to say the least. I remember having moments where I would bawl myself to sleep, wishing I could be accepted even for just a day.
However, I heeded my family’s advice and tried to get through each day. I moved through the next year waiting for that time of acceptance, wondering why society accepts — sometimes even seems to require — such extreme hazing from all sides.
So I set out to try and change the norm. I took any opportunity that jumped at me to work toward my end goal. Sometimes, I even realized that in order to try to be accepted, I may have become the bully. It can be so easy to join the crowd and cross the line between good and evil.
This is not a problem one person can solve. Our community has to come together and so I am asking for your help.
Every morning, look into the mirror and ask yourself, “What can I do today to make it better for someone else? How can I advocate for the good and create a place that won’t accept the bully?”
Today, I promise to myself and to you that I will stand against bullying. Let’s make Greenville an example for the world.
Alec Fowler is a sophomore at Greenville High School, where he is involved in a variety of activities, including sports, Special Olympics and the Youth Advisory Council. He is also part of a student committee working on the countywide Making it Cool To Be Kind anti-bullying program.