Being a school bully is full of perks, the bully thinks. Those perks include food, bully status, money, and sometimes, someone else’s GPA. I was the victim of what we call a psychological bully. Now anyone that knows me might find it hard to believe that I would tolerate a bully. And, of course, you are right. But in this case it was a friend who played the part of a bully. Being confronted by a psychological bully over a physical bully is much harder.
Growing up in a small northern New Mexico town, where everyone knows everyone, is hard to label yourself a victim. Although I did not know or realize that I was a victim, looking back, that is exactly what I was.
Between the ages of 11-13 I played victim to a girlfriend who copied my homework almost every school day. She was an intelligent student who was very capable of doing her homework and achieving good grades, but mostly she copied my work every morning. Sometimes, math, sometimes it was for other classes. It was unfair that I completed my homework and achieved an A, but that all she had to do was copy my homework and she achieved the same grade. It bothered me immensely to know she got the same grades, by cheating, yet I did nothing about it.
I wanted to tell my mother, but like most protective moms, I knew she would have put an instant stop to this cheating and I would be labeled a snitch. I did not want to get my friend in trouble. I wanted to tell the teachers, but I felt like a snitch.
One September, a new girl started school and we instantly became friends, mostly because we shared the same values. The cheating continued by my other friend and after a few weeks, my new friend said. “That’s unfair that Jane (not her real name) gets the same grades by copying your homework.” I replied that I felt the same way. My friend said, “then why don’t you just tell her to stop.” It all seemed so logical, but being 13 years old is a tough time in your life. The very next day, Jane asked for my homework and I said, “No!” “I’m tired of you copying my homework for work that I’ve done, so today it ends.” My “friend” looked at me with that bully look, walked away, and never spoke to me again. Within a few months she moved away.
Whether you are the bully or you are the one being bullied, did I say life is tough at age 13? It is difficult to know who your real friends are. I knew cheating was wrong, yet I thought losing her as a friend was worse. It clearly was not.
So all you 13 year olds who are in a similar situation, it is as easy as knowing this: Do not let anyone take credit for your work. Do not let anyone bring you down with insults. Confide in a friend or in an adult and know that right is always right, and wrong is always wrong. Read Gone With the Wind, because Scarlett was right, “Tomorrow is another day.”