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Bullying: Standing Tall

Being short has its advantages. In grade school, that meant being in front of the line for lunch-I

liked lunch, except maybe for fish stick Fridays during Lent, but it always meant I got my pick of

food, where to sit, etc. Being short meant I always in front for school pictures, so I was easy to

spot. I also got to sit in front of class, my desk giving me unobstructed views of the blackboard.

I had a happy childhood-I was quiet, kept to myself, but had my circle of friends: Joey, Thomas and

Chris. We were best friends, went to school and hung out. I wasn’t the most popular kid, but life

was good. I didn’t have many complaints. But there was the short thing. No matter which clothes

I wore, how I cut or combed my hair, I was still at the front of the line, standing at the front for

school pictures, etc.

What’s the point with all this, besides the fact I’m not a fan of fish sticks on any day? I was bullied

when I was in grade school. My small size made me very transportable to the larger kids, the 8th

graders. I can’t say I was constantly picked on, but there were two incidents that I still remember.

One happened at school. Some of the older kids thought it’d be “neat” to see if they could fit me in

one of the lockers. And not just the floor to ceiling lockers, the half size lockers. They were largely

successful, getting me crammed into the half locker, but were stopped short of closing the locker

when Coach Ramos, walked by. “C’mon guys, that’s enough”.

I got stuffed in a locker, no big deal, right? I mean, everybody gets stuffed in a locker, right?

Coach didn’t have a problem with it, and he’s an adult, right? Everybody had a good laugh,

harmless fun, right? They didn’t mean anything by it, right? Stuffed in a locker. Me. Stuffed. In a


While I can’t tell you exactly how this affected me when I was growing up, I can tell you that I

remember the event clearly. And, I’m sure if you were to ask my tormentors today, they would

have absolutely no recollection. But I do. To this day.

We are all unique people-all of us have something that makes us different, be that hair color,

freckles, braces, glasses, a nervous tic…something that makes us who we are. That doesn’t mean

being different is a bad thing, but most people want to belong and be accepted.

While I didn’t have martial arts to help me deal with being stuffed in a locker, I have seen how

martial arts can provide a solid foundation creating high self esteem, self worth, confidence and the

ability to stand up for one’s self, and others when needed. A proper martial arts training provides

you the necessary tools to accomplish these things. Martial arts isn’t about fighting, it’s about

defending and protecting ones self from attacks, be they physical or mental.

No one should stand for bullying in any form, and today that means anything from locker stuffing to

social media. Know that seeking help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s actually the opposite. It takes

great strength to say “No, that’s not right. Stop!” And your true friends, the Joeys, Thomas’ and

Chris’ will always stand behind you. Always seek help with any bullying situation, know that it is

something that you don’t have to fight alone. Find a responsible adult who will listen; tell your

parents, teacher, principal or school counselor.

Take the step, and take control-you can defeat the bullying by standing tall with confidence.

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