Growing up was hard. As a child, all through my school years, I was bullied. I wasn’t any different, in my mind anyway, then anyone else around me. They didn’t see it that way.
I was being bullied for my clothes, for the types of books I liked to read, for my choice of music.
I was being bullied because of how smart I was, or how I could finish most of my homework in class, before the bell. I was bullied because I didn’t like the things most guys liked. I was bullied for almost every reason under the sun.
Then, I got my first job.
Working in radio, here in El Paso, suddenly, a switch flipped in the minds of everyone around me. Suddenly I was the go-to guy for promo records, concert tickets and anything else anyone wanted.
No one saw the hypocrisy in their actions. No one cared.
Fast forward a ton of years later, and kids are still getting bullied, just on a wider field.
Today, kids are subject to the bullying they get at school, but also on social media. They post a selfie, and people will slam them for it, say they are ugly. They will make a well-thought-out post on Facebook, only to have people – kids and adults alike – say they are stupid, dumb, ill-informed. Or worse.
Then there are the extreme people who say that they should end their lives, that they are just too stupid or ugly to live. This is the reality many of our kids face every single day.
Then, there are parents, like my father, who would not lift a finger to help any of his children out. He was part of the problem. Well, we didn’t call what he did bullying, we called it physical and mental abuse. But, isn’t that what bullying is? Physical and mental abuse?
How would you like it if you would dread going to school, day after day, knowing people were going to make fun of you because of your clothes or push you around in the hallway simply because you are smaller than they are? How would you feel if the adults, who should be there to protect you, parents included, try to say it is only a dose of good-natured teasing? Really, how would you feel?
Even today, even now, I know people who are in their fifties or sixties who still think they are back in school, who still like to bully others, including children. It’s sad. It’s pathetic. It needs to end.
To raise awareness about the issue, Miss Redd has Tutu’s Against Bullying. Miss Redd has always taken a stand against bullying. February of this year, bullying struck close to home. Her son was bullied in the most horrible way possible.
“There’s an ongoing thing at every school,” says Miss Redd. “Everywhere, actually, not just the schools.”
Her son is in a special needs class. When he has an episode, when he is stressed, there is bullying.
“I dropped my son off one day, back in February of this year,” she recalls. “When I picked him up, it was only ten minutes shy of the bell ringing, at 3:15 when I got a call from the nurse.”
That call, the nurse explained, Miss Redd’s son had been injured. They told her not to worry, that the bleeding had already stopped. How was she not to worry? How would anyone not worry? “When I saw my son, he had a huge hematoma coming out of his left eyebrow, sliced half,” she says.
“He was bleeding. His eye was so swollen you couldn’t see it.”
That day, when he was dropped off, he was fine. He was happy, well and whole. He went through the day, doing what ten-year-old children do. No one could have known what was to come. No child should ever suffer at the hands of another student, friend, family member. Ever.
The child who attacked Miss Redd’s son, a nine-year-old, nothing was done. They moved him to another classroom, but that was it. He was not charged because, as the school said, he’s only nine. Her son, a sweet, trusting child, beaten simply because he was different. Bullied because he is different.
How is that okay? How is that right in the minds of school staff- teachers, nurses, all of them? How did it ever get that far?
I’m friends with one family who has a daughter that was also bullied.
“I don’t like it,” says Alice (not her real name). “I don’t like it and don’t want to go to school.”
Alice is one of several kids I know who was actively bullied at school. For her, walking through the doors of her Middle School was like walking into hell.
“I have these,” she says, pointing to her braces. “Most of the kids, these things were the clear kind. And I have glasses.”
Listening to her story, I felt I was back in Middle School myself. I had glasses. I had oily skin. I wasn’t into whatever the current trend was for that moment. I was ostracized. So was Alice.
“I like these things, clothes from the sixties,” says Alice, as she looks at all the clothes piled around her.
“I think it’s crazy spending lots of money on some pair of jeans because a Kardashian wears them. I am me. Why can’t those other kids like me for me?”
Individuality is something so rare in kids, in anyone, that we tend to lash out at them for being themselves. Eventually, Alice’s parents pulled her out of school and began to home school her. They also stopped attending their church.
“Even on Sunday School time they would bully me,” said Alice. “The teacher would not do a thing. All she would do is say, ‘Is that what Jesus would do?’”
“What I really want to do with this, first and foremost, it’s going to be a fashion show,” says Miss Redd.
All the TuTu’s in the fashion show; each one is a creation of Miss Redd.
“My reason behind this,” she says, “There’s just a really big deal going on, and it seems to be getting worse and worse.”
She’s right. Think of the kids who took their lives last year, here in El Paso, simply because they were bullied. It should never have reached that point. Someone, somewhere, should have stepped in and helped. Everyone seems to think staying hands-off is the way to go.
“There’s something we can do before it gets to an extreme case,” says Miss Redd.
During the show, there will be different speakers, artists speaking out about how we can maybe put an end to bullying. To that end, the monies raised during this event will go to support El Paso Stop Cyber Bullying.
“We’re going to be getting into the schools a lot more,” says Miss Redd.
That right there is a key point. We need to get into the schools, talk about bullying, teach how it’s unacceptable in any circumstance. If the children can be taught that bullying is wrong, then maybe, just maybe, it can finally end.
Miss Redd is taking a stand. It’s not hard, to do something to end bullying. It isn’t. A good place to start, go out to the TuTu’s Against Bullying fashion show, buy a raffle ticket and support what’s already happening. Then, talk to your children, talk at your child’s school. Do something. In my opinion, if we do nothing, then we are condoning such behavior.
Take a stand. Show your support for Miss Redd’s son. Show your support for Alice. Make a difference and join TuTu’s Against Bullying this Wednesday, May 23 rd at Craze Yogurt Lounge (1327 George Dieter, Suite F) 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm. The fashion show is free. There will be a raffle, and tickets are $5.00.
Also, during the event, Craze will be donating a portion of all proceeds to the cause as well. I hope to see you there!
Find out more on their events page on Facebook