In recent weeks there has been a great deal of attention drawn to the issue of bullying with the release of the documentary “Bully” in theaters. A former Escondido, CA woman chose to deal with the issue in her own way. After being bullied in her California high school 25 years ago, she chose to let former classmates know how she felt by sharing a poem she had penned on a class Facebook page. The results have been surprising …and healing.
Lynda Frederick led a hard scrabble life growing up in a strict religious home in Escondido. Often, she went to school so hungry she was forced to beg for food. Sometimes she had to wear the same clothes for several days without laundering them. While others rode the bus, she walked. Bruises were visible on her body. No one asked why, they just used these as reasons to pick on her. Unable to participate in holiday celebrations at school because of her religion, she was often spat upon or suffered rocks being thrown at her.
After the poem appeared, Frederick got a rash of phone calls and messages, sometimes from people she didn’t even remember. Most wanted to apologize for participating in the bullying or not stepping in to stop it. Others simply lent their support. The experience has been overwhelming.
Kristi Malone is one of the people who remembered Frederick and regrets how she handled the situation. She says now that it never occurred to her that she could stand up for Frederick, 42. Shawn Gordon, 43, also from Escondido remembered how he, too, stood by as Frederick was taunted and repeatedly tripped. With tears in his eyes, he shared the poem and his experiences with his own teenage daughters.
Frederick was able to graduate school early in 1987 and relocated to Rochester, NY. The mother of three, Frederick has made peace with many of her former classmates and even calls some of them her friends.
As for her classmates, they are so moved by Frederick, her experiences, her poem and their part in it all that they are attempting to establish an annual scholarship named for her. They have also raised $800 which will be used to fly Frederick back to Escondido for a class reunion.
Today, Frederick knows what to say to her own 14 year old daughter, also a victim of bullying. She advises her to let kids know that if they don’t like how she looks, they don’t have to look at her. Her new motto in life is while we can’t fix the damage wrought by our past, we can work to fix today.