Several years ago, three to be exact, my daughter was bullied by a group of girls in 4th grade. I didn’t understand how bad it was until my sweet daughter took a running leap and kicked me in the back because she was getting in trouble and angry. I complained to a friend I don’t see often about the change in my daughter and she said, “It sounds as if she’s being bullied at school.” Sure enough, my friend was right. See the thing was that my daughter had being trying to tell me that all along and I thought it was just a bunch of girls being catty. Unfortunately, my daughter didn’t have the vocabulary to express what was really going on and I didn’t know what the warning signs were.

At that point, I became involved and went to the school. After several meetings with the principal and teachers, it became apparent that we had to move her to another school. We were lucky enough that our district was redoing the boundaries of the schools and we were moving to a new one anyway. However, the bully moved with us. I went to the new principal and explained the situation. She set up an appointment for me to discuss this with all of the teachers in that grade and they came up with a plan to help my daughter. I cried that they actually took the situation seriously when the other school passed it off as “girl problems”. In the end, the teachers and administration at the new school stopped the problem and my daughter could go to school without having an anxiety attack.

However, we still deal with ramifications. There is lingering anger and suspicion of her peers. She is working to overcome it, but my friend who pointed out the bullying, her daughter is still going to therapy and it’s been five years. Sometimes, the invisible scars of bullying don’t ever heal.

As a society, we wonder why shootings at schools still happen. Most of the time, it’s because we breed the hate. I live in Colorado and my husband works with a guy who went to Columbine during the shooting. He said the media downplayed the bullying that the two killers received on a daily basis. He told my husband that a group of players from the football team would surround the two boys and not let them go until they kissed each other on the lips. Then they’d call them fags and gay lovers, laughing as they let the two boys go. That is just one story of what those boys faced every day.

It’s been almost 17 years since Columbine and we’re still seeing school shootings and it’s bled unto other areas of society too. Our political landscape proves that bullying is an accepted behavior in our nation. Donald Trump is a perfect example of a bully and the media gives him more press time than any other candidate. I could cite more examples, but I won’t. Until we as a nation take this epidemic seriously, we’re going to see more shootings.

***If you have a child being bullied at school, there’s a great book by Rachel Simmons that I found helpful. It’s called ODD GIRL OUT.