The other day I was reading an article written by Christina Salmivalli on kids being bullied in school and how Bullying is a group phenomenon. I couldn’t help but think about a 14 year old girl named Patty Love who experienced bullying in the class room by a group of students for no other reason but looking different.
I had a class with Patty our freshman year of high school. She sat in the first seat of the last row. She was a quiet kid, the loner type. Clothes were not her thing. What she wore, no popular kid would be caught dead in. She was quirky and awkward and it showed when she would walk across the room. She wore a pink bow in her hair everyday. It wasn’t stylish or new or pretty. The bow looked to be hand made, made out of a wash cloth or a rag.
By the end of the first two weeks of our freshman year, the class clown who was also the class bully had found a reason to hone in on Patty. Her pink bow was all the excuse that he needed. I wish I could say that we became Patty’s super heroes and that we swooped in and rescued her and that she went on to have 4 great years of high school. But we didn’t rescue her. Not even close. Instead, we all followed this bona fide ass holes lead like dumb sheep.
He brought from home old rags and passed them out to the entire class behind patty’s back one morning. He whispered instructions to tie them into a bow and place them on the top of our heads. Some of us took the bait, some didn’t. I tied the rag into a bow, but couldn’t place it on top of my head. I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. When the scene was set, he yelled for Patty. She turned around. The class erupted into laughter…. I watched a youthful 14 year old face age in a matter of seconds. The Life that was inside of her was sucked out and I watched her die right before us.
We never saw Patty Love again after that day. I remember asking around, but no one seemed to know what had happened to her. Nor did anyone seem to care.
It wasn’t until I reached adulthood that I fully realized the impact that our actions must have had on Patty. How we must have damaged her and ultimately altered the course of her life that day.
The bullying she experienced in the classroom that morning was probably a precursor of what the next 4 years was going to be like for her. No wonder we never saw her again. She saved herself from hell by not coming back to school and who can blame her for that; certainly not me.
The school administration, the student body and the teacher sitting behind the desk that morning failed Patty. We all failed her on so many levels. The sad part is that no one was ever held accountable. But we should have been.
I have thought about Patty Love from time to time over the years. I’ve often wondered what she is like today and if she has healed from the abuse she experienced in the class room. I hope she has healed completely….I hope she’s out there somewhere living an amazing life, one full of peace. And I hope she chose to give high school one more shot, in a different place. A place much kinder than where she started. I can only hope….
That was the first and last time I ever participated in the demise of another human being.
Sorry Patty……incredibly so.