I came across this story today and had to share it. An essay about bullying, written by 6th grade student Matthew Hashimoto, has won the Art Raab Memorial Essay Competition sponsored by the Breakthrough Project.
Writing about his grandfather’s experiences in an internment camp, Hashimoto makes a case for working together to prevent bullying. Matthew, thank you for taking a stand! (Essay reprinted from Lodi News.)
Matthew Hashimoto, sixth grade, Vinewood Elementary School
Imagine going to school in fear every day. This is what victims of bullying experience. Bullying is a serious problem in many schools throughout the U.S. A. A bully is someone who relentlessly intimidates another by using verbal or physical assaults.
Bullying can affect the person who is being bullied, whether it is an adult or child. It is important for people to learn more about bullying so they know what it is and how to prevent it.
Physical bullying can be repeatedly tripping, punching, hitting or pushing. Verbal bullying is just as harmful. It includes saying unkind things and constantly insulting someone. Posting insults or sending bitter email messages are examples of cyberbullying. Bullying can happen at home, school or at work.
When he was about 7, my grandpa had a bullying experience. In the [Japanese] internment camp, he was taught mathematics, but very little writing or language arts. After being released from the camp, he was placed in second grade because he was good at math. He had difficulty with writing and spelling, so the kids in his class constantly made fun of him. They teased him by calling him names, and he was assumed to be dumb.
The teacher did not support him, and the kids didn’t get in trouble for bullying. Because of this, my grandpa had to stick up for himself and got in many fights. The result was being whacked on the hands by his principal.
He thought that nobody understood him and felt so frustrated. Many of his Japanese friends were having problems, too, so it helped to have their support. On the other hand, his parents said to be strong and put up with it. They didn’t want him to complain and tell a teacher. In the Japanese culture, they were taught to respect authority and not to complain.
After about a few years, his classmates eventually stopped bullying him because they realized he was not going to put up with it. He was also growing taller than many of them, which probably helped convince them to stop. He was very athletic and good at basketball, so the boys started to want to have him on their team, and as a friend instead of an enemy.
People bully for many reasons. One reason why is because the bully wants attention and higher social status. If they bully others, they think they will receive respect from their peers. Sometimes, bullies act this way because they want to make themselves feel better. Victims could become bullies, too. Bullies sometimes harass victims because they are bored and do it just for fun.
Prevention can help bullying at school. You can help prevent bullying by stepping up to help the person who is being bullied. Bullies usually like to pick on kids who don’t fight back. To stop a bully, say “Stop!” or “Stop! You’re bullying” because most bullies stop within 10 seconds.
Schools are helping kids understand and respect other people’s differences. Many schools hold assemblies or have programs to create awareness.
Bullying is a big problem whether at home school or at work. I think the world would be a better place without bullying. Everyone is different in a good way, and it’s unkind to make fun of hat. Everyone deserves to feel safe and to be treated equally.
Matthew, I completely agree. Congratulations on a terrific job!