This is Life, Based on a True Story  

Big-kid bullies

Anti-bullying campaign isn't working

Horrified. Sad. Angry. Protective. Proud.

These are the emotions I experienced upon learning about a situation at my daughter’s school near the end of last year.

Boldly written on one of the bathroom walls, in larger-than-life writing, was the declaration that my daughter is a slut.

Cue the horrified feelings.

Who would write that about my daughter? And why? Does whomever wrote this even know what the word slut means?

A quick Internet search of the word turns up this definition:

slut. Noun. derogatory

 a woman who has many casual sexual partners.

synonyms: promiscuous woman · prostitute · whore · floozy · tramp
; dated;
, a woman with low standards of cleanliness.

I didn’t know about the low standards of cleanliness definition. While my daughter’s room leaves something to be desired, I’d never consider her standards to be that low.

Then, there’s the more common knowledge definition most of us think of when we hear that word.

I can say with confidence this definition is so far from the truth for my daughter (who was only 15 at the time).

This is where I felt sad for her, and really angry at the person who wrote it.

I was bullied in junior high. Teachers turned a blind eye and it finally came to the point where my parents mercifully moved me to a different school.

When my daughter told me about this wall statement, my knee-jerk reaction was to call the school and rant at them for not seeing this after two weeks of being up there.

My daughter begged me not to. She said she could handle it herself and doesn’t need me to fight her battles.

As a parent, that’s a tough one. We have a reflex to protect our young. To me this was more of an adult problem; as in, adults need to address this.

But I let her have this one ... and she handled the situation beautifully.

Here’s where my proud feelings come in. She chose to take the high road. The class and grace with which she dealt with what must have been a tsunami of feelings far exceeded anything most adults likely would’ve done in the same situation.

She said she feels bad for whomever wrote that because they’re living their life trying to make her miserable and losing friends as a result.

Of course, there’s all sorts of speculation on “Who dunit,” but my daughter realized the other person is struggling in her own way with feelings of loneliness, hurt and being left out.

There’s a weird, yet warped good twist to this. Other girls in the school took to that same wall to dispute what the perpetrator wrote.

Writing things such as “no she’s not, you’re just jealous” and even pointing out that my daughter wears turtlenecks a lot so she can’t possibly be labelled a slut.

Some girls tried to stop my daughter from going into the bathroom so she wouldn't see what had been written.

And in that same weird way, I’m proud of those girls for sticking up for my daughter.

It’s scary for these kids to go against the grain, yet some did anyway.

So what was the point of telling this story?

Well, of everything I’ve written, I hope one message will be shared and talked about: Bullying is rampant in the higher grades.

I dare say the anti-bullying campaign is a complete joke among the older kids.

My kids were both in elementary when the anti-bullying, pink-shirts day started. It seems to work for those age groups for the most part. 

But once these kids hit middle school, the message of anti-bullying is promptly forgotten. The kids even scoff at it. The same kids who, just a year or so earlier, were wearing pink and pledging to end bullying.

Kids are selfish creatures as part of their built-in survival mechanism. They will align themselves with those who appear to hold the power.

They need to be constantly reminded that the kids getting bullied also come from a home like their own where the parents love them.

Bullying is so far reaching and hurtful, not only to the victim, but to the families. And it’s a feeling that lasts a lifetime. 

Kids will never admit they’ve been a bully because they know it’s not acceptable. It’s hard even for adults who were school bullies to admit they were.

By the time this is published, the message on the wall will have been taken care of by the school.

My daughter is cool with me writing about this. She knows she didn’t do anything to deserve that label.

More importantly though, she learned how to handle a bad situation with discretion and a maturity many adults couldn’t muster up in the same scenario. For that, I am proud of the person she is now, and is becoming.  

Thanks for reading.


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About the Author

Tanya Gunderson has been writing for the heck of it for many years. Her inspiration comes from her kids, their friends and the craziness of life. She takes great pleasure in exposing life for what it really is and has an open-book approach to her writing.

Her formal education and background include a blink-and-you miss-it stint in the radio and television industry, but it gave her an opportunity to write professionally on a few different occasions.

Email: [email protected]



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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