Like many others, Shane Koyczan had a tough time growing up because of bullying. But instead of turning bitter, Shane decided to communicate his pain through beautiful words of poetry. And when he did, he found that millions of people shared his pain.
In this deeply poignant spoken word poem about bullying, Shane touched the hearts of people who have also been bullied. He delivers a self-effacing perspective of what it’s like to constantly want to be yourself in a world that prevents you otherwise.
And what transpires is a heavy, raw, and honest expression of struggle, courage, hope, acceptance, and the willingness to look at the silver linings.
“To This Day” … for the bullied and beautiful – Shane Koyczan
Staggering facts about bullying
Bullying is one of the most prevalent and problematic issues our children face today. Here are some hard-to-digest facts about bullying.
- Currently, more than one in 5 students (around 20-28%) suffer from bullying in school.
- While 30% of students admit to bullying other children.
- More than 160,000 kids refuse to go to school out fear of getting bullied.
- Over 70% of students reported to witnessing someone else being bullied in school.
- A recorded 10% of students who drop out of school cite bullying as the reason.
- Every month, 282,000 students are being physically assaulted in secondary schools across the United States.
- Approximately 75% of school shootings happened because shooters were harassed and bullied in school.
Bullying is a real issue with long-lasting effects in our lives
“We were expected to define ourselves at such an early age, and if we didn’t do it, others did it for us. Geek. Fatty. Slut. Fag.”
Growing up is hard enough as it is. We are pressured to know what we want to do and become at such an early age. And when coupled with other environmental and societal pressure, it creates such a need to be “good enough.”
But when coupled with traumatic bullying, the results can be devastating.
Shane Koyczan notes this as he recalls a friend’s experience.
“She was eight years old, our first day of grade three when she got called ugly. We both got moved to the back of class so we would stop getting bombarded by spitballs. But the school halls were a battleground. We found ourselves outnumbered day after wretched day. We used to stay inside for recess, because outside was worse. Outside, we’d have to rehearse running away, or learn to stay still like statues, giving no clues that we were there. In grade five, they taped a sign to the front of her desk that read, “Beware of dog.”
To this day, despite a loving husband, she doesn’t think she’s beautiful, because of a birthmark that takes up a little less than half her face.”
There are many reasons why a child would bully. It could be a difficult home situation, a trauma, and other things we can only begin to grasp. It will take more than just research and numbers, however, to truly get to the bottom of this issue if we have any hopes to fix it.
Nevertheless, it’s an issue we need to educate ourselves in.
Kids who grew up like Shane continue to struggle with the effects of bullying today. And for them, it’s too late for prevention. However, it’s never too late to heal.
If you’ve been bullied or you someone close to you was, it’s important to remember that healing is achievable.
“This is just debris left over when we finally decide to smash all the things we thought we used to be, and if you can’t see anything beautiful about yourself, get a better mirror, look a little closer, stare a little longer, because there’s something inside you that made you keep trying despite everyone who told you to quit. You built a cast around your broken heart and signed it yourself, “They were wrong.”
Because maybe you didn’t belong to a group or a clique. Maybe they decided to pick you last for basketball or everything. Maybe you used to bring bruises and broken teeth to show-and-tell, but never told, because how can you hold your ground if everyone around you wants to bury you beneath it? You have to believe that they were wrong. They have to be wrong. Why else would we still be here?”
You can choose to let your trauma affect you. Goodness knows you can’t be blamed. But you can also choose to look at the beautiful parts of you – the part those bullies weren’t able to touch.
As Shane wisely puts it, “our lives will only ever always continue to be a balancing act that has less to do with pain and more to do with beauty.”