McKenzie Gardner was our first Student Member at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Here is her account of a recent UPSTANDER experience:
MY STRUGGLE -
UPSTANDER OR BYSTANDER.
My name is McKenzie Gardner and I’m 12 years old. It started a month or so ago when a
girl in my class (we will call her Georgia but its not her real name) really
started causing problems. There
were a bunch of girls that were arguing about something, and I suggested they
all apologize and move on as we were going on a field trip that day and should
be having fun, not fighting. Georgia
refused, then went to our parents and accused me of saying things about
her. During a confrontation with
all the parents and several witnesses, Georgia finally admitted that she had
lied in her accusations against me.
She did not apologize nor did her mother encourage her to.
I didn’t think much about it after that, as we had hugged
and – I thought –made friends. But after that day, she accused me of several
other things that were untrue. Then one day Tech class, I was working on my
computer when Georgia walked past, grabbed my hair, twisted it and pulled hard
enough that it pulled a chunk of hair out! I was very upset and had a headache
for several days, but I did not tell….
Then 2 or 3 days later in choir, I was doing my solo
part. I had to sit in front of
the class with the 3 other
soloists. Georgia started to kick
me with her foot. Three times I
signaled for her to stop, and the third time, she punched me from behind in the
ribs. I actually have had many
problems with my ribs resulting in medical tests, and Georgia knew of
this. I did my solo, went back to
my usual spot and cried. My
teacher did not see this, but many of the other students did, which made it not
only painful but embarrassing. Again,
I did not tell….
The reason I did not tell was fear. I was scared she would do something
even worse to me. It was hard
enough her hitting me and trying to turn my friends against me, I didn’t want
it to get any worse.
One day, my best friend, who Georgia had also bullied, (She had pushed her down and been
verbally abusive) told me that she had spoken with her Mom and they were going
to go to the Principal. My friend
told me she had been struggling with thoughts of what Georgia had been doing to
me as well as her own problems with her.
Her Mom contacted my Mom, and it all came out. I was relieved to finally be able to talk about it.
I go to a Christian school, and this kind of behavior is not
allowed. I decided then and there
that I was “DONE.” I talked with my parents, and we decided to take it to the Principals
and make it known what had been happening. I told my friend that it would all be okay now. It wasn’t.
The school went through a lengthy investigation privately, where
I felt like nothing was being done.
Witnesses were pulled in, and they all said the truth about what had
happened. But nothing seemed to
happen to Georgia, other than she was out of class for meetings. She was sent home one afternoon, but
came back the next day, bragging about playing on the internet during her
“punishment” day. I was very upset,
as I felt like I had put myself on the line with a bully for nothing. My Mom and I talked a lot during this
time. She explained that the
consequences had to be confidential and the school was doing lots of work to
correct the problem and that even although I can’t see the consequences didn’t
mean they weren’t there. I realize
that I still did the right thing.
I had to be an UPSTANDER for so many reasons. I had to stop myself from being
bullied. I had to stop my friends
from being bullied, but most important I had to let Georgia know her actions
were not acceptable. How can she know if we don’t tell her? How can she improve if she doesn’t
understand? My prayer was that she
would have a consequence that would get her attention and make her rethink her
Unfortunately Georgia’s parents do not believe she bullied
me or the several other children whose families had complained. It’s very sad because she needs her
parents to help her understand and see her mistakes. Instead, they seem to think she is an angel and that she never
did any of these things.
When you are in a bad situation like this, you should always
Stand Up for what is right. You
are not being a tattle-tale. You
are stopping a dangerous situation for yourself and for others who are at
risk. When someone is bullying
you, the reason is that they are pushing you down to make themselves look
The only consequence Georgia suffered is being disallowed
from joining our class on an upcoming off-campus choir competition. She cannot leave school grounds without
parents, and parents are not invited on this trip. Georgia is now busily trying to convince the other kids that
it’s all my fault and that I and all the other kids are liars. I’m glad to report that not much of her
recent accusations are being heard.
But I am very sad that she doesn’t get it so she that she can correct
On a happy note, my best friend and I are closer that ever,
and will protect each other from this day forward.
Again, stand up
for what is right – always –so that we do NOT have another Holocaust.