The Norman Transcript

October 11, 2013

Stop bullying by starting with yourself

by Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — Welcome to the Halloween edition of N-town!

We’ve pumped up our content this month to bring you page after page of fabulously creepy, spooky and fun content.

Flip through to read about various events throughout town, including a Zombie 5K, a haunted house listing and more. Don’t miss our costume fashion spread, brought to you by the creative efforts of N-town staff, Queen of Hart’s Costumes and Dancewear, Andrew Freeman Creative Studio and BRC Photography.

All in all, we hope our coverage is the perfect kick off to a happy, haunted Halloween.

Next month, we will continue the trend with a Holiday edition, celebrating Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and more.

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It’s time to get real: Growing up I was a pie-faced little girl. It wasn’t something that bode well for a girl whose last name was “Moore.” Just imagine the clever comments some not-so-kind classmates came up with.

Yes, indeed, there was “Moore” of me. But I certainly didn’t need anyone to remind me. When I blew candles out on my birthday cakes, I’d wish that I could be skinny. I was sure the reason boys didn’t like me was because of my round shape.

In seventh grade I’d wear sweatshirts even when I was sweating from insufferable heat. I didn’t want to strip down to a T-shirt, only to reveal my bulging love handles.

One day that same year, while I waited for my brother to come pick me up from school, a girl — we’ll call her Casey — taunted me by singing to me the tune to “1-800-99JENNY.” That’s right. She sang me the advertisement and number for Jenny Craig, a weight loss program.

Of course I was hurt. But I quipped back, asking Casey how she even knew the song in the first place. I pretended it didn’t bother me, but her treatment cut me deeply. Years later it’s likely one of the incidents that continues to inform my inner, fat-girl vulnerabilities.

When I look back on that incident, I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t a more self-conscious 12-year-old. That one moment in time surely could have been crippling, destroying my fragile pre-teen body image and self-esteem. I credit wonderful parents and mentors for equipping me with an elastic ego, but I know many aren’t so fortunate.

Unfortunately bullying can happen to anyone — young or old — and at virtually any time, and ranges from verbal to physical harassment to cyberbullying. And the consequences can be dire. According to stopbullying.gov, children who are bullied can experience negative physical, academic and mental health issues like health complaints, decreased classroom performance, and mental illness that may persist into adulthood.

In fact, the website sites that “a very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System: 2011 National Overview 16.2 percent of students had been electronically bullied, including being bullied through e-mail, chat rooms, instant messaging, web sites, or texting, during the 12 months before the survey. A total of 20.1 percent of students had been bullied on school property during the 12 months before the survey.

With October deemed “National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month,” take time to consider how your treatment of others effects them. Within each of us is the potential to uplift and heal, instead of demean and break.

If tempted to bully, think again. If witnessing bullying, intervene or seek help from authorities. If bullying, stop — your actions have lifelong, sometimes permanent consequences. If being bullied, seek help — know you are not alone.

For more information on bullying visit stopbullying.gov.

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Have any suggestions for us? Comments? Praises? Give me a shout out at hcruz@normantranscript.com. I’d love to hear from you.