Janet Heller is one of State of Opportunity's many sources in the community. She shares her true story of how childhood bullying has continued to affect her life. You can share your story with us here.
When I was five, my parents moved to a different city. I began afternoon kindergarten, but the students already knew one another and did not want to play with me during recess. They treated me harshly. Bobby pushed me down, and Charles threw stones at me. Karen told me every day, “You’re so skinny I can see right through you!” Her name-calling was the hardest for me to deal with because I was thin, so there was a grain of truth in the taunt. I did not know what to do about the name-calling, and I did not know that Karen was bullying me.
I did not tell anyone until one day, Mom saw me crying after school and asked what was wrong. I told her about Karen’s taunts.
Mom said, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names can never hurt me.” This was typical advice to children in the 1950's.
Even though I was very young, I knew that this proverb made no sense: I felt deeply hurt inside by the name-calling. What I needed was advice and help in dealing with abuse. After Mom’s dismissal of my story, I concluded that adults were not interested in my pain.