Stand up Against Bullying!
Since one of our objectives is women’s empowerment, we think that the following story is very important as it concerns a topic that sadly has a very big part in American daily life.
According to the American Medical Association, there are more than 3.2 million juveniles and children each year that become the victims of bullying. Since they often don’t talk about being singled out, the actual number is probably much higher. Reasons for keeping the psychological and sometimes also physical torture to themselves are various. They range from being embarrassed for not having friends over not wanting to worry their parents to being afraid that adults will worsen the situation and many more.
Bullying is also a common theme in school shootings as students retaliate for the things they had to go through – roughly two-thirds of school shooters have felt bullied, threatened or attacked by others. And sadly, thirty per cent of all child suicides can be directly related to bullying.
It is therefore even more astonishing that the following story comes from a girl that has been suffering from being bullied for more than 6 years, but nevertheless made it to be the Miss Teen America of 2011 – in her favourite Michael Kors…
Read this powerful story about a girl that learned to stand tall even when there was nobody to comfort her. This is a true story by the Miss Teen America Katarina Kneer – and a declaration of love for family and for shoes!
“One day in my 4th grade class, my teacher assigned a project that was due a few days later. I was required to make a house out of popsicle sticks, which seemed treacherous enough due to my lack of artistic ability. I went home and got straight to work, and put all of my effort into making this popsicle house. I excitedly brought it back a few days later, extremely proud of myself for completing such a difficult task. I laid my popsicle house on my desk as I went to put my belongings in the closet. When I came back, I saw a mess of popsicle sticks scattered everywhere. However, what I didn’t see was my popsicle house. As I frantically looked around the classroom trying to locate my project, I saw a girl snickering in the corner and pointing at me with her friends. It all clicked: she had broken my project; the house I’d spent hours on end working on. Naive as I was back then, I began to cry and had asked her why she ruined my project. Her response was something I’d never forget…she cussed at me, and proceeded to tell me to check the 3rd stall in the girls bathroom to find out why she broke my popsicle house. I walked into the stall, and it read obscenities about me. Those words staring back at me were like a stab to the heart. From then on, I realized I was the target that everyone wanted to pick on. In middle school, a group of kids created an “I Hate Katarina Club” and created a web-site, t-shirts, and stickers to promote their club. Everyone joined, and I was the ostracized little girl who had no one to turn to. While everyone else had their group of friends to hang out with, laugh with, and eat lunch with, I was alone.
The bullying was so unbearable in middle school that I begged and pleaded my Mom to homeschool me because I was too scared to go back to school. However, it seemed as if not even homeschooling could keep me away from people’s cruelness, because they would harass me online via AIM, Myspace, etc. I never understood what I did to any of these people to deserve this kind of treatment. However, as the years progressed and the bullying increasingly worsened, I had a realization about these bullies. They each suffered from their own personal insecurities that they felt compelled to take out on me. I understood that they thrived on making me upset, so I vowed to keep my head held high even though I had no friends to assist me in doing so. I found multiple things to keep myself occupied with; and I discovered that community service was the best of all. I became involved with END DWI, my town’s Substance Abuse Alliance, and made it my duty to make speeches at various schools to speak to kids about the consequences of underage drinking, as well as drinking and driving….and, I also tied in how bullying effects teenagers today.
Until this day, I still deal with mean girls who will never have anything nice to say about me, which is unfortunate because they never even got to know me before making their judgments. However, I learned that my best friends in life are non-other than my family. My mom, dad, and little brother would never betray me, and have always been my support system no matter what. Yes, it’s extremely hard and unfair to continually be excluded from social activities with other teenagers. I will always have that craving to just fit in with everyone else, and finally have the friends that I’ve longed for. But, I’ve found my bright spot…being crowned the new Miss Teen America 2011 has provided me with such confidence and perseverance. I am now involved with so many great charities/organizations, and have so many wonderful opportunities that lie ahead for me. And the best part about it? For the majority of my appearances, I’ll get to wear a woman’s best friend: HIGH HEELS. Aside from being on stage, my gorgeous Michael Kors heels will never fail to give me that confidence boost that we all need once in a while.
Girls, never let ANYONE tell you that you aren’t beautiful. You are a shining star no matter what anyone else has to say. Smile, and go ahead and throw on your cutest heels..:)
Katarina Alexis Kneer”