The news has been abuzz the last few weeks with the stories of bullied teens. A nationwide campaign was launched to tell kids everywhere that It Gets Better. And watching those videos makes me happy, and a little tearful, because it does. It does get better.
But what I can’t help thinking is that not enough is actually being done. All we’re really doing is telling kids, “Suck it up for a few years, then you’ll be free.”
But what if they can’t suck it up? What if every damn day they’re tortured by kids in the hallways and locker rooms and buses that teachers and parents turn a blind eye to because they’re different? Because they’re fat, or slow, or ugly, or gay. They’re too nice, too hairy, too smart.
We’re basically telling kids to endure this abuse because someday those kids won’t be doing it to their face any longer. But they’ll still be discriminated against by their own government. Possibly their own families. Sometimes their jobs or churches. We’re telling them to wait and hope that it will get better.
But in the mean time, they have to suffer, because no one is listening to the people trying to change things. Not enough parents are teaching their kids about tolerance and diversity. Not enough schools are enforcing anti-bullying policies. Not enough people are doing their part.
I know what it is to be bullied. Every day for three years I was trapped for 90 minutes on a bus with kids who made fun of me because I’m fat. Those years are when the Star Wars movies were re-released, and you can probably guess which nickname I got. Some mornings I would miss the bus on purpose and my mother would have to make the 45 minute drive, making herself late for work, to get me to school on time.
I grew up with these kids, I’m even friendly with them now. But I will always, always remember those days. Crying on the bus, being sick when I got to school. Not wearing certain clothes because they showed my pre-pubescent belly rolls.
Kids are cruel. We hear this all the time, but I don’t think we’re actually listening. Kids are cruel.
And that has to stop. Because those cruel kids don’t always grow up to be friendly with their victims. And their victims don’t always get over it.
I am glad President Obama made a video, but it was the least he could do. Then again, it was the absolute least he could do.
I want more.