Today I received a Facebook private message from our classmate Jon Mangold, who was with us for awhile at KHS but then moved so did not graduate with us. Through Social Media, Jon got in touch with our class through me and we are friends on FB. We comment back and forth from time to time, but today's message was different. He was reaching out for a platform, and in light of the current environment in our society, I am delighted to provide it. Please read the following essay if you will, by Jon. The person who was guilty of bullying Jon is no longer living, so we are using his name. Of course he is no longer here to defend himself, but I print the story to give Jon a way to share his experience and point up the sad result of bullying. Yes, it's too late for us to guide our own children away from that behaviour but perhaps not too late for us to influence others in the unfortunate results of bullying If you wish to contact Jon, he is Jonathan Mangold on Facebook.
"Hi, Leslie. The recent shooting in Florida has caused me to think about how I was bullied in school. As a junior, I sat in front of Jim Moulder in Art Stout’s math class. Jim liked to flick my ears during class. I never knew when it would happen, but it happened every class and it hurt. We sat far enough forward in the classroom so others had to have seen what was going on but no one said anything. I never told Mr. Stout what was going on. I could’ve asked to be moved, but that would mean I would have to tell him what was going on and I was afraid I’d be even in more trouble with Jim and his big friend who sat behind him than I was already. I was terrified. I couldn’t sleep thinking about what might happen to me the next day. I’ve only recently become aware of how this has affected my relationships with men—particularly men who are bigger than me. I am hypervigilant around bigger men and find myself trying to ingratiate myself in hopes that they will not terrorize me. Had I owned a gun then, I might have gone to school and shot up the place. Being bullied is that bad. This is serious business, probably worse now than then. If you see someone being bullied, don't just stand there. Say something. Tell someone. Do something, for everyone's sake. I don't want anyone to get the idea that I harbor thoughts of shooting anyone now! I didn't then, in fact It never occurred to me to retaliate."
Thank you Jon for sharing this experience with us. While for the most part I believe, from 50+ years of being in touch with our classmates as we have aged (I HATE that word), that within reason and some variations, most of us led pretty charmed lives as kids growing up in Kirkwood. But stories such as this remind us that not everyone lived that charmed existence. I hope others will read this and be moved to share their stories, or at least give thought to the subject!