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Standing Up to Old Bullies

Standing Up to Old Bullies

Lynda Frederick had been bullied in high school. Now 25 years later, she faces her enemies again—this time on her terms.

High school life for Lynda Frederick was the worst you could imagine. From dodging flying objects to garnering a nickname as the "scum of the school," Lynda left southern California after graduation and never looked back—until a few years ago, when on a whim she decided to reconnect with some old classmates online.

That decision changed the course of her life—leading her to forgive those who had hurt her 25 years earlier. It even landed her in the midst of a media storm about her experience.

On November 18, GMC's pilot show, I Forgive You, will air Lynda's journey to forgiveness. Here's a TCW glimpse behind the scenes of her story—including tips for parents and teachers who want to end bullying both inside and outside the classroom.

What kind of bullying did you endure in your high school years?

LYNDA: The bullying was an everyday, look-over-my-shoulder kind of thing. It was everything: what I wore, how I looked. It didn't matter what I did, I always got picked on. I got called the "scum of the school," and had things thrown at me. People tripped me. I didn't feel like I had any escape; I just kept dragging every day to get through school. I wasn't an honor roll student; I barely passed. When I graduated, I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

How did you cope?

My family wasn't supportive, and my religious upbringing was focused on all the things I wasn't allowed to do—go to dances, celebrate holidays, things like that.

I had one person I could go to for support: my psychology teacher, Mr. Bree. He was a big inspiration to me because his classroom was always open. Many times I would go into his room crying, and he would take the time to listen even if he had been busy doing something else.

With that kind of painful experience, it seems unlikely to reconnect with your classmates. How did that happen?

When I left California 25 years ago, I swore I'd never go back, but when I found an alumni group on Facebook a few years ago, I guess curiosity got the best of me. I wanted to see what everyone from my school was doing, so I decided to catch up with a few people I knew and liked, and it went from there.

After a few years I felt courageous enough to let the group know what I was struggling with and see how they would respond. So I wrote a poem and posted it on the Facebook page:

that little girl who came to school with the clothes she wore the day before
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who had to walk to school while others rode the bus
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who had bruises and was dirty
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who was always crying
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who had unshaven legs while the other girls were shaving
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who was hungry all the time and would sometimes beg
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who didn't celebrate holidays or participate in school functions
instead of asking why … you picked on her
the little girl who was different in many ways
instead of asking why … you picked on her
you spat on her
you called her names
that little girl was me
that little girl was longing for friendship and didn't get it
that little girl needed a hug and was pushed away
that little girl had love in her heart to share with all but no one wanted it
that little girl was me
that little girl grew up in difficult times at home and at school
and instead of asking why … you picked on her
this WOMAN has grown up now
however the little girl inside still cries
because her childhood was shattered
because instead of asking why … you picked on her

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Allison J. Althoff

Allison J. Althoff is Today's Christian Woman's online editor. Follow her on Twitter @ajalthoff.

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