Saturday, June 14, 2008

My School Years by Petra Luna

The Lavender Power ladies have asked me a few times to write my story. I was trying to oblige them but for some strange reason, I was having some sort of writers block and was not able to do it. It took a tragedy to make me see why.

I was watching a TV show about the Virginia Tech Massacre and they showed a video of Seung-Hui Cho going on and on about how the kids at his school would bully and pick on him. The worst part is that the kids who he killed did not even know him, much less torture him.

This tragedy and many like it are caused by 3 factors; 1.) Mental illness, an area where the parents and the mental health system failed. Somehow these people slip through the cracks and go unchecked. 2.) Easy access to weapons. How this man was cleared to have those handguns is uncomprehencible. 3.) The problem that created the rage to make Cho commit mass murder. The bullying and teasing that is hard enough for a normal kid to handle but impossible for a mentally ill person to even deal with.

When the show was over, I had these strange feelings that ovewhelmed me and I wasn’t sure what it was. I just knew that when he was talking about the kids picking on him, I remembered when I was a kid, how so many times as a result of being bullied and picked on, I wanted to lock the doors of my school and blow it up with all those horrible people in it. The difference between him and me is not the rage, but that fact that he acted upon those urges and I didn’t. I can remember being asked to come to a reunion at my High School. I was so upset and angry that a woman who was on the side of the kids who tortured me, would have the nearve to ask me to a reunion. I sent her a letter stating I was working on a new CD and would be in New York that weekend and to never, EVER send me her junk mail again. I was not good enough for them then and I have no use for them now. She replied saying that they would love to get to talk to me and know me now. Yea, now that I have done something with my life. My brother who remained in the area where I was raised would always say to me, “They were just kids back then”. (There were 3 brothers. This one did not get picked on.) Sorry, not good enough. Yes, I have unresoved issues here. I am only human. I will never be proud to announce where I went to Grade School or High School. Those people and those places are dead to me. Damn, for me as a kid, there was no safe place at home and no safe place at school.

When I was a child, my mother suffered from mild schitsophrenia and paranoia and had many metal challenges. When she was around her kids she would abuse us, so on most occasions, she would just neglect us completely. My father was in a specialized profession that kept him away from home most of the time but he did the best he could to raise us despite that violent and hostile conditions. He is old school and divorce was not an option. Needless to say, I would go to school without being woken up at all. I remember someone always yelling for me to get up because the bus was at the end of the driveway. I would jump out of bed and put on what clothes I could find. It was usually the same thing I wore the day before. I only had 3 or 4 outfits to wear for the whole year and as the year went on, the clothes got more and more worn out. I would also run to the bus in the snow barefoot because I did not have time to put on my shoes and wet socks were horrible to be in all day. My hair was never combed and I always looked unkept. Breakfast was non-existant and I almost never had lunch money. Most kids had nice lunch boxes and cool food. I would catch hell for forgetting my lunch money all the time. The school cafeteria still let me eat and had my Dad pay later. I really wanted to be a part of afterschool activities but that meant I missed the bus home and with my Dad working late, there was no one to pick me up. When I did join an activity, I would wait outside the school alone on many occasions, with no way home since my house was 10 miles from school. I was a perfect target for child predators. It’s a good things my angels were always watching me. Eventually, my Dad would come get me after work when it was already dark. With all that going on, I was the excellent target for being isolated, picked on, bullied and tortured by the kids at school. Also, coming from a big family, my oldest and one of my middle brothers were also subject to this abuse. I always say that those who are physically wonded usually always heal but phscycological abuse can leave many perminantly damaged.

Myself, my oldest and the younger middle brother always got abused by the other kids. We were always laughed at and never chosen to be on anyone's groups or teams for class activities. In the 6th grade, a bully made me run laps in front of the other kids and forced me to beat up my best friend. The younger, middle brother was gay and was staring to act differently. He was beat up on the playground, more like the hunting ground, everyday. The oldest one came out OK but the younger brother could have easily become a kid that would shoot all his class mates now. His bullying and teasing case was probably the worst I have ever seen with my own eyes. The 3 of us hated school.

Now you have to remember that I never had any guidance and was starved for anyone to pay attention to me. I had no explanations of sex except “Don’t’ have sex with boys” and when I was trying to tell my Mom that I got my period, she yelled saying. “I am not driving you anywhere!” I cried and ran away. When I was a Freshman in High School and about 14 years old, there was a group of boys that were Juniors (2 years older). This group of boys knew me from grade school and thought I would be a great target for their sexual explorations. One boy pretended to really like me and I did not know how to handle it. Because I was so afraid to loose the kindness that was being shown to me by that boy, I gave in to sex and lost my virginity and was dumped shortly afterwards. It was a terrible experience. There was another boy in the group that I fell madly in love with and desperately wanted to have as a boyfriend. He did take me out a few times and became frustrated when I would not give him what his “friend” got. One weekend afternoon, we took a drive with another couple. There was a boy and girl in the front seat and I was in the back seat with him. We stared to kiss and when I refused to comply with his wishes, he raised his fist and proceeded to rape me in that back seat while the two in the front did nothing to help me. THEN, to add insult to injury they all went to school the next Monday and had me marked as the school SLUT! After that, I was never asked to one dance by a boy that went to my own school. Not to mention the teasing, and isolation was at an all time high. I remember a violent outburst I had in class one day after I just couldn’t take it anymore. I screamed “All of you low life small minded evil people are going to pay someday for what you did to me and my brother!!”. The principal and I were well acquainted. I decided to defy all of them and got all As and went on to college and even graduated with Honors! I also made friends from other schools and went to thier dances and mine as well. At 17 I left that small town, never to return.

My brother did become a member on MENSA, a certified genius and was able work for a few years as an engineer but all the abuse caught up with him. Today he is pumped up on so many drugs that he is unable to focus or work and is currently on disability. He has attempted to kill himself several times. I’m not sure if I could ever forgive those monsters. It would take a formal apology from those schools for me to even think about it and that will never happen.

Who do I blame? I blame the school first and foremost for forcing my brothers and I to go out on the playground for recess when we did not want to. They knew what was happening and chose to do nothing. I blame the parents for not getting a grip on their cruel kids, even when the school occasionally notified them. I also blame ALL of the kids that stood there and watched my brothers and I be tortured day after day and even be raped and did NOTHING!

How many more massacres is it going to take for us to start paying attention to this terrible problem? I cannot do anything about the mental health system or about gun control but out respect for the innocent victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre and their families, as the leader of the War On Abuse Movement, I SURE THE HELL CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT BULLIES AND THEIR ACCOMPLICES!!! You can bet your ass I can and will! I am vowing right now to start a new child abuse battle dedicated to the awareness and prevention of schoolmate bullying and teasing. I will need volunteers for this? It is abuse and it need to be stomped out, PERIOD!

I am going to suggest training teachers to identify and act on this problem and for parents to become aware and find out if you’re their child is a victim, bully or an accomplice. If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem!

For those guilty of instigating and committing these acts, proper punishment should be the following;

1st offence-parents called and detention where the child has to write 2 letters. One, on why they did it and two, an apology to the victim.

2nd offence-parents called with suspension from school and community service.

3rd offense-expultion and transfer to another school.

Also, any physical assaults on or off school grounds should be counted as a misdemeanor with community service. Any further assaults are already covered by the criminal justice system.

For those who stand by and don’t report the incidents to the teachers, please see 1 and 2 above?

I also will suggest a class to be given on how to handle teasing and bullying in schools. These kids need to be responsible for their actions.