When the bullies came for Phoebe Prince they came in packs. They jeered her for her Irish accent, for being different, for dating popular boys. Every day they chased her down the hallways of South Hadley High and across the landscape of her Facebook page. They mocked her, cursed her, called her a slut. And after she hung herself in her family’s apartment, they wrote nasty comments on her memorial page.
And no one, not even school administrators, found the courage to stand up for Phoebe until she was gone from this life.
When the bullies come for you they will come with threats of violence and non-stop ridicule. They will shame you, frighten you and take your money. They will spit on you at school, and spread nasty rumors on the internet. They will turn your life into hell, then chase you into corners from which you can’t escape.
And no one—least of all you—will speak out against them.
When the bullies came for Corey Jones they chased him until he killed himself. They bullied him for years, unable to accept that he was gay, unable to accept his own self-acceptance. It didn’t matter that Corey was likable, funny and had plenty of friends. When the bullies came for him they taunted him so badly he jumped off a bridge to free himself.
And none of his friends were there to stop him.
When the bullies come for you, you will never know what you did to deserve their cruelty and abuse. Everyday your world will grow more dangerous, more terrifying. Your dreams will become fragile and distant; escape will seem impossible, hope will be in very short supply.
And, still, no one will speak up for you.
When the bullies came for Kenneth Weishuhn, they sent him death threats and created a Facebook hate group to torment him. His friends deserted him or joined in the bullying, afraid that they might become the next victims. His teachers and family never knew what he was going through, how bad it was. And Kenneth, only 14 years old, never told them.
Till his dying day, Kenneth never said a word.
When the bullies come for you, they will destroy your sense of self-worth. You will struggle not to cry. You will feel totally alone. Abandoned. You will struggle to hold onto yourself, no matter how many come at you, no matter how often. You will feel trapped in a nightmare from which you can’t awaken.
When the bullies hit you, take your possessions, tear up your homework and lock you in your locker, you will feel more alone than you’ve ever felt before. You will wonder how no one hears your cries for help. And no one—not even your best friends—come to your defense.
And you will remember other times when you didn’t speak up. When others were attacked, and you were the one afraid to get involved, afraid to draw their attention, afraid someone would call you a snitch.
When the bullies come for you, you will wish you had spoken up—and stood up—for Phoebe Prince, Corey Jones, Kenneth Weishuhn and all the others when they were bullied. You will regret you let the bullies set the rules.
And in the end, when the bullies come for you, you will pray for the strength and courage to finally break your silence.
Or like Phoebe, Corey and Kenneth, you will die trying.
Paul Steven Stone is a writer/novelist living in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His anti-bullying video “To You Who Different” can be viewed on YouTube. Author of the novel “Or So It Seems” and the story collection “How To Train A Rock”, Stone is an independent advertising/marketing consultant. He can be reached at PaulStevenStone@gmail.com. For more info, go to www.PaulStevenStone.com.