October is National Bullying Prevention month, and The Protectors is proud to participate by launching NATIONAL APOLOGY TIME in hopes to create healing and change this month.
NATIONAL APOLOGY TIME: A time where students and adults can make amends for current or past bullying, setting both Target and Bully free from guilt, pain and shame.
Our desire and hope is that this month can become a great time of healing and reconciliation for individuals and organizations. To participate as an organization, public and private schools can encourage their students to:
Far from showing weakness, offering a real apology shows inner courage and creates a healing power that must be completed before experiencing its many benefits, such as reconciliation and relief from shame and guilt. And no time this year and in our nation’s history is it more important to apologize for bullying another person.
Countless people who bully live with the heavy burden of regret, shame and remorse. It’s time to set yourself free, the way John, an 8th grader in Southern California did. After hearing The Protectors student presentation, he apologized to the boy in his class he was bullying—in front of the entire class. During the school’s next assembly, he was given an award for his apology and also received a standing ovation from the high schoolers as well. A fourth grade girl in Oregon during her class’s “Think Time” was encouraged to reflect upon how she had been treating others. She quickly apologized for writing a mean note to her classmate the week before. According to the teacher, “the two girls went home all smiles today.”
An apology holds the key to your own happiness and the happiness of the person you offended. So now’s the time to get it off your chest. Now is the time to make things right for your target and for your own conscience. You’ll both feel so much better.
When apologizing, avoid what’s called the non-apology apology. It’s a statement that appears like an apology but doesn’t express remorse. It most commonly includes someone saying that he or she is sorry not for a behavior, statement or misdeed, but rather is sorry only because the target of bullying is requesting the apology, expressing a grievance, or is threatening some form of retribution.
Here’s an example: “I’m sorry that you feel that way.” This apology does not admit that there was anything wrong, and it may even insinuate that the target is excessively thin-skinned or irrational.
1. Acknowledging the offense
2. Offering an explanation
3. Expressing shame and remorse
4. Offering reparation.
When apologies fail, it’s because at least one of these parts was missing. The most common failing is not acknowledging the offense through counterfeit statements such as, “I’m sorry for whatever I did.”
“Back in 1968 and 1969, I was in Marine training prior to going to Vietnam. On two occasions, I participated in what was known as a “blanket party” – a euphemism for a cowardly and shameful practice that involved a number of Marines choosing to anonymously torture by beating, one of their own who was seen as being a “screw up”. At night, when the barracks was dark and the victim was often asleep, a blanket would thrown over his head to keep him from being able to identify those who were beating him. These fellow Marines would then either punch or hit the victim with a bar of soap inside a sock that was swung like a club. In both cases, I believe that the blanket party was arranged/introduced by one of more of our instructors. A blanket party is visually and accurately portrayed in the first half of the movie “Full Metal Jacket”.
“I would like to apologize to a guy that I bullied in 9th grade. I had been bullied by 3 guys in the junior high years and I guess I felt anger to get even with an innocent by stander. Dumb I know. I grabbed Robert by the ankles and shook him upside down. He yelled “Hey, hey hey!” Then a rescuer named Jared came over and grabbed me by the ankles and shook me and said “There, how do you like that done to you?” I got the message and never bullied again. I apologize to you Robert. Please, forgive me.”
“I’m forty years old and a former Marine. And I’ve lived a lot of life and made many mistakes. I have regrets but have reconciled them. The only nagging regrets I still have are the times that I could have stood up for a kid who was getting bullied. I was small and got picked on myself so I didn’t want to draw the bully’s attention and sometimes joined in to fit in. I regret that I never stood up for them when I should have. I’m so sorry. I wish I could go back and fix it.”
“I bullied three boys when I was in junior high and high school and I enjoyed it. I would go home and plan my attack during the next school day. I used to wait for them outside one of the main exits after school where few teachers were and call them names like “Fag,” and “Douche.” I would beat them up if I thought I could get away with it because they were so much smaller than me. But then I heard you speak and I realized for the first time just how harmful I must have been to those boys who are young men now. I repented and I contacted them. I apologized to all three of them. Two wouldn’t accept my apology but one did. We’ve become friends.”
Hello… I don’t know why I’m writing this, and whom it may help, but I guess I just wanted to get it out of my system somehow. I was born in a middle class family, in a poor country, to a loving mother and father. I was sometimes abused by my other relative, but I did not pay much attention to that, once I learned how to stand up for myself, things got easier. I am now living in a different place, studying in a university of art, having a pretty good life. I have strong morals, I fight for human rights and am, as you may say, a closet feminist. But I wasn’t always like that.
When looking back at my past, the thing I regret the most, is me being a bully in elementary school. I’m ashamed that it used to be me. I was not the classic bully that would hit everyone, constantly keep them in fear and take their money. I think I was worse than that. I targeted a person and made sure their life was hell from that day on. Luckily enough, I only did it to one person before I changed schools. I never bullied again.
My victim was a girl of my age, that sat behind me during class. She was made fun of by the whole class, more or less, but no one was as hardcore as I. The reason for her to be bullied, was the fact that she smelled. She smelled strongly of urine, you could smell it in the whole classroom sometimes. Her mother was an alcoholic, and her whole family looked really dirty. I didn’t see her as a human being even. Whenever I smelled her, I would forget everything and harass her. The smell was like a red cloth in front of a bull.
I don’t know if it was her fault, I don’t know the reason why she neglected personal hygiene so much, I don’t care. Freaking out like that and bully her, had no excuse whatsoever. I called her names, I laughed at her, ridiculed her in front of everybody. She seemed to have some speech troubles, she was slow when speaking and sometimes stuttered a little. that only made it worse for me, I had to mimic her. When I provoked her enough that she started snapping back at me, it was as a charge signal for me to start hitting her. Whenever we ended up in a fight, I did not hold back. Nobody ever cared to intervene, for them it was just entertainment, because everyone disliked her. I can’t even begin to imagine how it must have felt, being hated by the whole class of 32 people.
There is no excuse to bullying at all. When I got a little bit older, I bullied her less, but if it was ever needed, I would do it anyway. She tried to befriend me on a few occasions. That made me speechless. I realized that it must’ve been her mother telling her to do that, in order for me to stop doing all that. Maybe it had other motives, I don’t know. But even if I did talk to her, walk with her to the bus after school, I still acted cold, and in a week’s time, started bullying her again. I don’t remember much of what was going on during the days of my last years in that country.
I dropped the bullying completely when I got old enough, but I think it was only because I got tired of it, and she actually started smelling less and less. Pretty much everyone didn’t care about her anymore, she even got a friend. Many years after that, I decided to look up my old class on a website similar to Facebook. But I think the biggest reason for that was to find her and see how she was doing. I started regretting ever doing that to her way before looking her up. I wrote to her, saying hi, and how was she doing. I got no reply of course. Why would I?
I don’t think I deserve her forgiveness. I made someone’s life miserable – if I didn’t get some karma punch in the stomach by now, I think I will sure get it later on. Her name always triggers some guilt trip, and I get really depressed. I hope that her adulthood will be much better than childhood.
He was my older brother. His name was Tony. From the time I started school, I had a front row seat to the abuse and torment Tony endured. This is his story…
Around the age of 2 he was diagnosed with a kidney disease that was considered rare at the time. Known treatment options were even more rare. His life was anything but normal.
Instead of being familiar with playgrounds and neighborhood kids, Tony was familiar with doctors, nurses, Riley Children’s Hospital, and the smell of a sterile environment.
One of the many treatments that had been tried included a medication that caused Tony to appear overweight and to suffer a symptom called moon-face. The same treatments caused him to appear bigger and older than fellow classmates. These symptoms would become the target of torment for years to come.
Once in school, bullies honed in on Tony, teasing and tormenting him. He was always a quiet kid – never engaged in confrontation of any kind. In 1977 we began attending a new school. The bus was where Tony would meet the bully of all bullies. His name was Brian.
Brian would regularly get on the bus; take the seat directly behind where Tony and I would sit. And like clockwork, the abuse would start the moment he sat down. Pushing, tapping, grabbing books, breaking pencils, tearing up homework. Tony would lower his head and sit in silence until we’d arrive at school. Once there, he would be separated from his bully until the ride home.
In October, the abuse escalated to more aggressive physical assaults. On the ride home, Brian decided he’d show off his new class ring. He did so by turning it upside down and hitting Tony in the head with it.
I looked at Tony as tears filled his eyes and his head shifted to look out the window for the rest of the ride home. Once there, Tony instructed me not to say anything to our parents just before going to his room. I did as he asked and didn’t tell anyone. I’ve regretted it ever since.
Two days after that blow to the head, we woke to get ready for school. Tony was never one to complain about pain, he learned to keep it to himself or risk going back to the hospital. The morning of October 16 was different. He was in a great deal of pain. He told our mother his head hurt really bad. Mom instructed me to go on to school. I did.
Mom was about to get dressed to take Tony to the hospital. As she started up the stairs she heard Tony talking from the other room. She rounded the corner to check on him. He was kneeling in front of the sofa, looking upward, hand raised as if he were reaching. He called out, “Jesus, hold my hand” then collapsed and never regained consciousness.
Tony passed away November 5, 1977.
It was never said that a blow to the head was the cause of Tony’s cerebral hemorrhage, but for me, it very much was. Whether it was the actual blow or the stress that came with it – I’ve always held Brian responsible for the death of my brother.
What became of Brian?
Within a few years Brian died in a car accident.
What became of me?
I developed a real ZERO tolerance to bullying. I purposely introduced my kids, from a very young age, to people who looked different, who were different. I wanted my kids to see being different as being normal.
I developed a voice that would call out bad behavior. If I see someone being bullied, I usually try to find a creative way to call it out and publicly expose the bully for what they are.