The tragic deaths of Carl Walker-Hoover in Springfield, MA. and now Jaheem Herrera in Dekalb, GA has sparked surprise, regret, and much conversation. The two 11-year-old boys committed suicide in separate situations because of the bullying they received in school. Now, a national spotlight has been set on how schools and parents deal with this issue.
We took to the streets to ask ESSENCE.com readers exactly how bullying has impacted their lives. Click on and see what they had to say.
“I was bullied in junior high by the cool kid and his crew because I didn’t like him. They called names like egg head, but nothing too crazy. Once, I got out of it I never spent time focusing on it. I’ve seen it happen worst to other people. We called boys gay, but we didn’t really know what that meant. I saw my bully recently at a mini-school reunion and we talked like it was nothing. I think when you end up better than that person it makes it easier to let things slide.”
City: New York City by way of St. Croix
“Sometimes if you’re doing well, people will always find a way to bring you down. You always find bullies, at schools, on the job and everywhere you go. You have to move on. If you don’t take them on, they will leave you alone. If you fight with them, it’s really a fight that you will never finish.”
“I was a class clown so I made everybody laugh, and never had to worry about being bullied. But I have told my son he should protect himself if anybody messes with him.”
City: Bronx, New York
“I was picked on really badly by a boy in my class and I found out later he had a crush on me. He would call me flat-chested, kick my books off the desk and other [mean] things. I saw him a while back in the neighborhood and he tried to holler at me. I told him who I was and he acted like everything was cool. When he was ready to take my number, I just walked away.”
City: New York City
“Kids were bullied in my class for looking different, wearing glasses, being too small or too big. It wasn’t my thing. I’m one of six so I got picked on at home. Having an older sibling does help because people know you have support. Parents need to understand the seriousness of bullying today and that society has really changed.”
City: New Jersey
“I don’t think I did it intentionally, but I would pick on the kids who weren’t really outgoing or too friendly. But if I could say something to them now, I would say no hard feelings, it was all love.”
City: Queens, New York
“I was bullied as a child. I would get picked on in public school after attending Catholic school because the kids thought I was different. I still see my bullies around the neighborhood. I may acknowledge them but I’m not going to be their best friend. The way I handled it was trying to get a support system and talk to my family about what I was going through.”
City: Brooklyn, New York
“I was bullied and I was a bully, so I know both sides. Kids would make fun of my name and call me Francesco Rinaldi, after the spaghetti sauce. I was taunted even though I was the tallest one in the class. Bullying knows no height or age. I made fun of one kid who didn’t have much means but eventually stopped. I would apologize to him right now if I could.”
City: New York City by way of Jamaica
“Well, I’m originally from Jamaica and I know when I came here, people would make fun of my accent. They were like are you from Africa? Overall, I think it’s important for parents to instill confidence in their kids.”
Were you ever bullied or were you the one who did the bullying? Tell us your story below.