If you have a news tip or story idea, I'd love to hear from you...
To leave a voice message for Linda about any of her stories call toll free 1-855-251-2363
'Why me? Why do bullies pick on me?'April 11, 2012 @ 6:52 pm (Updated: 9:53 am - 4/12/12 )
Beaten to the ground by three teens with sawed-off shovel handles, Kevin didn't move. His head bleeding, his body aching, lying on a trail about a mile from his house.
"I just kept thinking, 'God make them leave,'" he says.
For the past five years he's been wondering, "Why me? Why do bullies pick on me?"
"Bully" is a word we hear a lot. It's the name of a movie that opens in Seattle Friday. The documentary's director says 13 million kids in America are victims of aggressive verbal and physical abuse by their peers in school.
Is bullying a bigger problem than it used to be, or are we just talking about it more?
Kevin has put up with bullying since he was 12. I'm not using his last name, or identifying the Olympia-area schools he's attended, but I have verified his story.
For him, it started with a few rubber bands fired at him or paper clips chucked at him from the back of a classroom. The snapping sound of the rubber band, followed by laughter from behind him.
Later he was spit on, shoved up against a locker and kicked. It happened in the hallways. It happened during class. Some of his teachers would tell the boys to "settle down," while others didn't seem to notice.
It escalated in P.E. class.
"I would get tripped," Kevin says. "Dodgeball was violent. It's like they were targeting me. Even my own team sorta was. You're not supposed to aim for the heads, yet they were."
By high school, the bullies went after Kevin online calling him "gay" or saying "really rude, crude, nasty comments." He shut down his Facebook account.
One afternoon they surprised him as he was walking home from school.
"I was almost home and the next thing I know they came out of the bushes, out of nowhere. They had sawed-off shovel handles. They hit me once. They were going to hit me twice, but I didn't fight them. I didn't get up. I just laid there," he says.
Sitting in the doctor's office, getting six stitches, wondering why he was a target for bullies.
"I know I talk a lot and that makes people kinda mad, but that doesn't have to proceed to that extreme," he says. "I used to go to school with these kids since first grade and when you get into middle school and high school they just turned. Your friends that used to be your friends are now your enemies. I don't know why they bully. They think it's fun, they enjoy it, they laugh."
Did he ever want to fight back and punch these kids?
"Yeah," he says without hesitation. "But I'd be the one getting in trouble. They wouldn't."
Kevin, now an 18-year-old senior, never retaliated.
He did ask them to stop. They didn't. Teachers were aware of the problem. He says one in particular let him eat his lunch in her classroom, but that was the only help she could offer.
He asked the principal for help, who told him there was "no way" he could stop the bullying unless he talked to "every single student" in school, and he couldn't do that because not every kid in school is a bully.
Kevin and his father had enough. He moved to a different high school in the area to complete his senior year.
"He would feel my pain and I would feel his pain," says Kevin, talking about his dad. "He was getting so frustrated. We were so stressed."
Kevin doesn't think schools do enough to deal with known bullies. In his experience, administrators "turn the other way."
By LINDA THOMAS
Bonneville Media encourages site users to express their opinions by posting comments. Our goal is to maintain a civil dialogue in which readers feel comfortable. At times, the comments can descend to personal attacks. Please do not engage in such behavior. We encourage your thoughtful comments which: have a positive and constructive tone, are on topic, are respectful toward others and their opinions. Bonneville reserves the right to remove comments which do not conform to these criteria.