Please do read this wrenching post by Seanan McGuire. Speaking for myself, I never experienced bullying on the scale that she describes, though she does say: "I was rarely the target of violence." Now that is not actually my experience: when I was at school I experienced plenty of violence. But even if McGuire was never or seldom (surely even one time is too many!) actually beaten up ... well, some of the things she describes, such as being pushed into traffic, are terrifying and horribly dangerous. And perhaps more importantly, it sounds as if the cruelty that she faced was absolutely fucking relentless, driving her to multiple suicide attempts.
Reading her article, I feel quite fortunate - I never faced anything so relentless that it made me feel suicidal. But then again, that's a stupid response. Notice that even McGuire says, "In a way, I was one of the lucky ones." But she wasn't of course. There's nothing "lucky" about what she describes, and it's worth pausing to note the self-deprecation of people who've experienced bullying: always bending over backwards to say that others had it worse. I reckon we ought to stop this. Compared to me, she did in fact have it worse, and doubtless we could find worse experiences still. But that shouldn't be the point. Even the degree of brutality that I experienced in school, and even the less-relentless-than-McGuire's level of harassment and intimidation that I put up with so many of those days in primary school and the first several years of high school, are the sort of thing that no child should have to endure and which our society should absolutely not tolerate.
There's doubtless some explanation for how each bully turns out that way, but there are many calls on our concern and understanding. If I have to pioritise, I want to see understanding and assistance given to kids who are bullied for being "different", in whatever way it may be, and usually without giving anything even remotely like provocation. Adults must be approachable, supportive, and decisive.
McGuire asks us to break the cycle. She concludes:
We've known for a long time that school bullying was out of control, but every time it gets "uncovered" again, people react like it's some sort of shock. Kids can be mean? HORRORS! Kids bully other kids? HORRORS!
Everyone at my high school knew that bullying happened. If you were a bully, you knew. If you were bullied, you knew. If you were neither of the above, you tried not to align yourself too closely with the bullied, because there was a chance the big red target we all had painted on our backs might rub off. No one in the American [or any other - RB] school system is ignorant of bullying. But still, we take the word of the bullies over the word of the bullied. Still, we allow for the mistreatment and marginalization of anyone labeled "different."
And still, kids are dying over it.
This whole situation hurts my heart. Please, please, speak out against bullying. Break the cycle. Humanity will always have the potential to be cruel, but isn't the world already difficult enough? No one should die for the crime of being different. No one should learn the lessons so many of us were forced to learn.
No one else should die because we didn't stand up and say "enough" to the bullies of the world. The fact that I have to write "no one else," and not "no one," just shows how bad the situation has become.
Please. Break the cycle, before it's too late for someone else.
Frankly, I'm at a loss to know how to do that, apart from pointing you to her post. It's not as if I have kids in my life whom I'm in a position to listen to and protect - I'm not a schoolteacher, and the children who occupy a place in my life are either grown up now or a long way away. Perhaps there's something more concrete that you can do. If not, just passing on McGuire's post might help.