Ask Amy: Teen gets bullied and takes a stand

May 8, 2012

DEAR AMY: I’m 17. As you probably know, teen bullying is a big issue.

I’ve got a new one: I’m being bullied by a teacher in my school — and she's not even my teacher. A couple of weeks ago, she called me fat; she has called other students names as well.

I’ve always had issues with being bullied, so I put up a picture of myself on my locker and a sign saying “Don't ever judge me.”

She confronted me this morning in a very nonfriendly way. How do I deal with this? -- Angry

DEAR ANGRY: Bullying is wrong in every way and you should be angry about it. It is completely unacceptable for a teacher to engage in bullying, and this teacher should be called on her behavior.

I hope your parents are supportive. They (and you) should call a meeting immediately with the administration of your school to insist that this name-calling must end. If your parents aren’t helpful, seek out a sympathetic teacher or counselor. The teacher needs to apologize for her behavior and change her ways. Otherwise she should not be teaching.

To me, it sounds like you have the makings of a confident leader. You might be able to use your experiences to engage other students in bullying prevention by standing together against bullying, by anyone, at any time.

Your statement, “Don't ever judge me” would make a great rallying cry.

DEAR AMY: I am a 50-year-old gay man in a long-term relationship and we have a son.

We have crisscrossed the country several times for my partner’s job and I like keeping in touch with long-distance friends and family.

I’ve always been the primary initiator of communication. I understand that people get used to a certain dynamic. With two close friends in particular, I would call at least once every two to three weeks and get together several times a year during our travels.

Two and a half years ago I was in the hospital with a serious illness and even then I kept up correspondence with those people I care about. But I also started to realize that these two closest friends didn't take up the slack and initiate communication with me.

Once I was home and recovered from my illness I decided to take a wait-and-watch attitude and to my disappointment, these two friends who I always considered to be my closest friends never made contact; not a phone call, not an e-mail, not a Facebook post or check-in of any kind.

Now, two years later, they have yet to make contact with me. It is baffling to me.

There was no fight or disagreement and I realize that maybe these friendships of 30 years have simply run their course. Maybe my illness was too close to home for them and they didn’t like facing our mortality?

Should I suck it up and find out what is up? -- Missing my Friends

DEAR MISSING: I think you have diagnosed this issue correctly when you say that people simply become accustomed to a certain dynamic. Your friends have been lazily receiving your friendship and never reciprocating. If they have dropped you out of a fear of their own mortality, they are cowardly and unkind.

However, because you miss them, the next time you plan to visit their area, you should make an effort to see them. By seeing them in person you may decide that you still want to be in touch with them. You may also decide that your considerable positive energy is more appropriately pointed toward other people.

You have absolutely nothing to lose by asking them why they have dropped you off their radar screens. An honest, human moment of connection should be revealing.

DEAR AMY: “Fed Up” was frustrated when people contacted him/her through Facebook and then never followed up. I opted out of Facebook when the site went into my e-mail account and sent out friend requests without my knowledge.

Maybe this is why your reader didn’t hear back — the “friend” probably didn’t even know their request had been sent out. -- Faithful Reader

DEAR READER: This is a definite possibility.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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