by Diego Sandoval
Editor’s Note: This story is published in We’Ced Youth Magazine Issue #3
Bullying is a serious problem. According to studies by the American Medical Association, 3.7 million youths engage in bullying each year, and more than 3.2 million are victims of “moderate” or “serious” bullying. In my case it started as early as I can remember.
I remember saying to one classmate in kindergarten, “Listen, this is my playground kid,” as I held a pointy object to his neck.
Yeah, I was what you would consider a bully. I bullied kids because I was always the big one, the tallest in class and the thickest, too. I had an advantage since all the kids my age were usually small and delicate.
I felt as if I was born to fight. I lived in a house full of drama. It seemed like everyone in my family would talk mess about each other all the time. Sometimes that led to physical violence. I saw my family fight with each other, and was even involved in that violence when I was as young as seven-years-old.
I looked up to my older brother, who sometimes was violent. I wanted to be just like him. In school everyone already knew not to mess with me, as early as second grade. That’s when I figured I was “the bomb,” or at least that was my mentality back then.
[pullquote_right]I felt as if I was born to fight. I lived in a house full of drama. It seemed like everyone in my family would talk mess about each other all the time. Sometimes that led to physical violence. [/pullquote_right]
But when I moved to California from Florida in the fourth grade, the tables had turned. I didn’t know anyone, so I soon became the quiet kid in class. I became a loner. I became the one who was bullied because I’m Latino, and my English wasn’t all that fluent at the time.
I was curious about what another former bully would have to say about their past actions, so I spoke to Kalvin Saelee, a former bully.
“It made me feel bigger and better than everyone else, and I convinced myself (that it was OK) to do it,” he said. “I was a very popular guy. I saw it as a joke, but I didn’t know the bullets I shot through my words would cause harm.”
I also interviewed Myles Houston, who was a victim of bullying, to see what kind of harm bullying caused him. Myles said he had a hard time relating to his peers.
“I had female characteristics, was overweight, and I wore glasses. Kids didn’t like me because I was different. They would say mean things to me and I couldn’t say anything back because I felt if I did it would sound stupid, (and) they would just laugh at me,” said Myles.