By Linsday Holeman
In elementary school, it was because I was short, quiet, and bookish. In middle school, it was all of that and because I had gotten eyeglasses. In high school, I wore heels, I was much more outgoing, and I had gotten contact lenses. But it didn’t matter. In high school, I was bullied because I was Jewish. It was always something. Looking back, it didn’t matter what I said or did.
Bullies find their reasons.
Through it all, classical ballet and writing were my outlets. By the time I was in college, I felt “with it” and emotionally safe with my group of friends. But inevitably, whenever someone casually mentioned “oh yeah, I’ve been friends with [insert random name] since second grade…” and brought up a childhood memory with that person, I was hit by a wave of nostalgia that I didn’t understand.
In my graduate teacher certification program, my professor told the class that “emotional memory can’t be erased” and that “how we were raised and disciplined as children has a high impact on our choice of disciplining the children in the classroom.” That statement about emotional memory struck me hard.
After much thought, I realized that the nostalgia I was feeling in college was, in part, for the innocent childhood friendships – the ones that last. I have acquaintances from elementary schools – kids I carpooled with to after-school programs, people who I would offer a friendly wave to on the street if I saw them today, but it doesn’t reach beyond that. Even though in college, I was active in my courses and student clubs, every so often I felt lonely and didn’t have the faintest idea why.
Emotional memory can’t be erased.
How many children today feel lonely but can’t put a name to it? How many children today blame themselves for their bullies? And how many adults look back on their childhood of being bullied with the same sense of confused loneliness that I have experienced? Today, I’m proud to work with a non-profit organization called Kickin It Kids Anti-Bullying and Leadership Center. I’m proud that I am in a position to help children who don’t know where to turn.
Our organization offers a variety of programs and activities ranging from pet therapy, art therapy, and body image discussion groups (for adolescents and teens) to martial arts and workshops on healthy coping tools, among other things.
Many children today don’t have a safe adult to confide in. Many children are threatened that things will get worse if they tell. Let’s change that together. The kids that bully need as much help as the ones they hurt. Let’s change the conversation and make empathy rather than mockery all the rage.
This guest post was contributed by Lindsay Holeman. In addition to being an educator, Lindsay is the Events Manager for the Kickin It Kids Anti-Bullying and Leadership Center. Please visit www.werekickinit.org to learn more about Kickin It Kids Anti-Bullying and Leadership Center and see how you can get involved.