I had a wonderful time with high school students at Noble Street Charter school this spring. I did a teen enrichment and leadership program and had the time of my life. These were some of most engaging teens I have come across. We covered topics from every genre it seems, i.e., bullying, mental illness, verbal violence and more. The conversations were deep, funny, and silly all at once. I admire teens in today’s society possessing the abilities to talk about their issues.

One of the most significant discussions was bullying. I was a verbal bully growing up on the Southside of Chicago. Unlike a physical bully whose aggression to beat their victims to a pulp would only do. For me, my weapon of bullying was telling jokes. I told jokes that would fry the skin off unsuspecting targets in elementary, high school, and college. My quick cobra bite left many in a sea of pain I hoped for. Fellow students had to hate seeing me come down the hallway, afraid they could become the next victim. I look back and realize the harm I subjected on some classmates and neighborhood cohorts. I am a huge advocate against teen bullying.

Bullying in any form is not cool. In previous years, I have run into a few people I bullied in elementary and college, the looks they gave me was chilling. After nearly 20-30 years, their faces bellowed their internal pain against me from a bullhorn. I was speechless and yet sorry for them and me. What I did to these two individuals was spiritual and moral torture. It was clear, I was a former Nazi general these victims had run into on their vacation in Peru or a central island that hide war criminals. I was ashamed. I never want faces looking back at me with such a blank expression ever again. It hurts…that I offended others because of my fears and personal doubts. However, I am sorry for the pain and distressed I have subjected on others. But I learned a lesson, bullying never dies; victims can live with the pain for years.

I hope conversations on bullying continue to alert us of the dangers to the victims. This group helped me express my feelings on it. We explored a variety of issues but bullying stood out for me.  My time comes to an end tomorrow at a place I learned more than I taught…goodbye for now.  I had a ball…

Robert Williams