A memorable episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” was “Opie and the Bully.” A kid was threatening Sheriff Taylor’s son with a beating if he didn’t give him his lunch money and finally Opie tells his pa. Andy relates a story of how, when younger, he had to stand up to a bully and Opie does and it all works out.
That’s fine on television, but the pain of real-life bullying can leave emotional scars that linger for years. I was bullied in elementary and middle school and I felt angry, scared and helpless. Schools have made progress addressing the seriousness of bullying, but it remains a problem.
Other local residents shared stories of bullying:
Perla Barzinjee: When I was in the fifth grade, I was new to Fairfield, new to my school and I was handicapped. I have a rare birth defect called Morning Glory Syndrome and am legally blind. I wore thick glasses, since doctors knew very little about the disorder.
I also had the misfortune of developing rather quickly physically. I was bullied almost daily from the start. If bullies weren’t calling me names for having large breasts on a small frame, they were throwing my glasses and bag in the creek.
I befriended my tormentors and the bullying stopped until middle school, when a whole new group of bullies proceeded to sexually assault me. As if the groping wasn’t enough, rumors followed me until the eighth grade. In high school, I became more confident, got rid of the glasses, but started failing classes because I didn’t want to ask for aids available for the visually impaired, like sitting in the front of the class or large-print books.
I am now in my 30s and can speak freely on the matter without feeling sorry for myself or wanting to run away from it as I did as a child. I now educate my own children about bullying.
Andy Cooper: I was only 5 feet 5 inches tall my freshman year at Armijo High School. This piece of trash and his cousin used to wait for me to get out of class every day and would push me around, knock me down and step on my throat.
One day, as I was leaving the Ag Shop classroom, they dragged me over to where the girls PE classes were doing archery. I was knocked down, held down by the cousin and the little punk held an arrow at full draw aimed right at my face. He held there and after a while, started shaking and let the arrow fly. It stuck in the ground right next to my head.
Hate him? You bet! Forgive him? Heck no! I really hope karma saw to it. His bullying turned me into a bit of a racist for many years. I was probably 25 before I realized that Mexican people are not to blame for his actions and I was amazed at what good friends I had.
Shirlyn-Shugie Trammell Cobb: I remember in 1971-72 at Armijo High School a mentally challenged kid was picked on. Other boys would take his lunch money and shove him around. I stepped in and started yelling at them and then everyone then came to his aid and got involved. The bullying stopped – everyone watched out for him after that.
Erica M. Kimes: I loved art, but in my art class at Grange Intermediate in 1978, there was a clique that was merciless and made my life hell. I was poor, had a very limited wardrobe and zero money for a hair style, let alone anything “cool.” I was pushed, pinched, told I stink and was the target of incessant cruelty. Strangely, I can recall the pain and anger but have managed to forget the names of my tormentors. I hated school so much that I tested out in 1982, joined the Air Force, became a paramedic and eventually went on to get a degree in clinical science. I cannot abide any form of malicious bullying and will immediately call out anyone I see engaging in this disgraceful behavior.
For more information on bullying, the Internet address for the California Department of Education’s frequently asked questions on bullying is www.cde.ca.gov/ls/ss/se/bullyfaq.asp#parentsofteens.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.