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When Nate got to middle school everything and everyone seemed to change. Kids he had known and gone to school with his whole life came back different, and some of them had turned mean, and that's when the bullying started.
It began with name-calling, like wimp, and loser, and dork, and worse, then moved online to cyber-bullying with fake profiles and Instagram accounts. It all made him feel so small and bad about himself, sad and alone. But, even though it lasted all through middle school, he survived and he graduated!
He thought things would get better when he entered high school, but instead, everything - the bullying, the name calling, the cyber-bullying - all of it got much, much worse. The names got meaner and more offensive, and the bullying got physical. Nate was being singled out and picked on for no apparent reason, and ti wasn't just a handful of tough boys, it felt like everybody was getting in on it.
The kids around him went out of their way to make him feel really badly about himself, and it was working - Nate felt worse and worse, un-safe and unprotected. He saw other kids at his school, also bullied or left out or made to feel different, doing terrible things to themselves, cutting, and maybe even thinking about worse. But every time his mind wandered in that direction, every time his brain suggested self-harm, he stood firm - no, he wouldn't go there, wouldn't do that.
But, no matter what, the bullying continued, from every direction, from everyone, on and on, in the classroom, in school, on social media, and in group text chat. One day Nate was playing kickball, and running to a base he collided with another kid - he got hit so hard he actually blacked out, and when he woke up his head hurt so badly that he couldn't help but cry. Everybody saw that, saw him on the ground, knocked out, then crying.
He had gotten a really bad concussion, had almost broken the orbital bone around his eye. Going back to school after that, he let people know he had a concussion, had a nasty black eye to show for it, but still, people actually made fun of him, teased and bullied him about that, about his injury and black eye. Some kid even put together a really nasty post with a picture of Nate from when he wiped out during gym, and it said "This is what an un-athletic kid looks like."
It got so bad after that and he had so much anxiety and depression, that he would fake being sick and have the nurse send him home just so he could lay in his room, anything not to have to go to school and face all those nasty bullies and mean kids. His low self esteem continued to get lower and lower, worse and worse.
He went to teachers and administrators, but they rarely did anything about it. In fact, they tried to convince him that if they gave out a few warnings that things would eventually get better and then just stop altogether.
But no, it never stopped - it's still going on, and Nate gets bullied almost every single day. He hopes it stops, of course he does, but if you asked him right now, he wouldn't think things were going to change anytime soon.
We think Nate is super brave just to tell his story, and we know that there are a lot more kids like him who feel the same way. If you see someone getting bullied like this, anyone, don't just stand by and watch - do something, tell somebody, or stand up for them, with them.
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