May 19, 1996 in Features

Stand Up For Yourself, Your Rights

Lisa Johnson Special To In Life
 

First person

I don’t remember when the harassment started. All my life I have been considered different.

When I was little, instead of playing with my peers, I had my nose in a book. In first grade I was teased because I “read so well.”

I was an oddball - wanting to read instead of playing outside.

In second grade there was an “I hate Lisa” group. When asked why they teased me, they answered, “Because you’re different.” During the middle of second grade I went to another school, hoping it would stop. It didn’t.

During the third, fourth and fifth grades, I was teased constantly for no apparent reason. Eventually the teasing turned into harassment.

My love for school turned into dreading school every morning. My only friends were my family, my cat and books.

I found sixth grade to be the hardest year of my life. I was harassed because I was smart, the “teacher’s pet,” and because of how I dressed and talked. There were rumors and jokes about my body.

When I ran for school president, my posters were vandalized. I was booed when I gave my campaign speech.

I cried every night and developed a stomach condition that can lead to ulcers.

I needed a place where I was judged on who I am on the inside. For the last few months of sixth grade I went to a small private school that taught students respect. They were the happiest months of my life. I learned how to be a part of a class again.

I’m now a seventh-grader. I was apprehensive about going back to school with my old sixth-grade classmates because I still think about my years of harassment. But now I have friends who support and stand by me. I am very grateful for their friendship.

Maybe this happened so I would be able to help other people. That is something I want to do.

I’m not a shy girl anymore. I speak out for what I believe in. That is why I’m sharing my experiences.

There are still kids out there being harassed for no reason. That is not fair.

I don’t care if my peers comment when this article is in the newspaper. I want it to be noticed by the victims, the bullies and the people who want to stop harassment but don’t know how.

I’m fighting harassment by speaking out.

There is a new law that makes it illegal for anyone to harass another person. Please enforce this law in School District 81. Don’t wait! Take action!

The only way to stop harassment is if each person takes responsibility. It won’t go away until you stand up for yourself and your rights.


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