Morgan (center) with Hannah Morton and Kaitlin Hoefer, two of her best friends. The girls were by Morgan’s side showing their support during a very difficult time. Submitted photo
WOODVILLE, WI - At the January meeting of the Woodville Lions, Syttende Mai Queen Morgan Kielmeyer stood up for herself and everyone who has ever been a victim of bullying by courageously sharing her story with the Lions.
Her presentation began with a powerful example of the affects of bullying. She asked those gathered to participate in an exercise. After handing them each a piece of paper, she told them to crumple it, stamp on it and really "mess it up," but the men were told not to rip it. Next she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell the piece of paper that they're sorry.
Repentant Lions apologized and tried to fix the paper, but Morgan pointed out all the scars they left behind. "Those scars will never go away no matter how hard you try to fix it," she said adding, "This is what happens when a child bullies another child. Bullies may say they're sorry but the scars are there forever."
Morgan then went on to describe her own personal nightmare of being bullied at the Baldwin/Woodville High School. "There are many different forms of bullying," she said and then described each form of bullying all of which she experienced.
"Verbal: They called me names, spread rumors about me and also threatened me.
Visual: Pictures that I was in around the school had my face scratched out. I was given dirty looks by people I had never talked to and especially by the girls that were bullying me. They made inappropriate gestures towards me. They 'tpeed' (toilet papered) our house.
Physical: They bumped into me in hallway and in the stairwells.
Individual bullying: It all started with one girl until she got her friends involved.
Group bullying: Once her friends were involved, they worked as a force, getting other groups of friends to gang up on me. I felt alone in a school of more than 400 people. People I had never talked to or didn't even know hated me for things I had never done.
Cyber bullying: There were rumors and horrible, inappropriate things said about me on Facebook statuses, comments on pictures written on peoples' walls, and posted just about everywhere you can think of.
Secondary: The girls went to the Sprint Phone Store and entered my number in the phones there. For months I had random people sending me text messages."The bullying then took a truly dangerous turn. The girls gave Morgan's number to a complete stranger and told him to call Morgan. "This happened when I was on vacation in Milwaukee. I thought I was on vacation but I was wrong. I couldn't escape it [the bullying]."
Morgan was lucky, if you can call anything about this experience "lucky." This man persisted in trying to find out what was going on and eventually contacted the Hudson police. He even filed a report because he was concerned about Morgan's safety.
"He was trying to get to the bottom of it, and the way he handled it was amazing. I was so grateful that he was worried about me and only wanted to help me," said Morgan. Other victims of this kind of vicious bullying haven't been so fortunate. We've heard the stories; this could have had a tragic ending.
Morgan's nightmare occurred during her freshman and sophomore years and the two summers that followed them. "I have blocked a lot of the events from the last two years, aside from the amazing memories, like being crowned Syttende Mai Queen," she said, and as much as she tried not to let the bullies get the upper hand, it didn't always work.
So what did she do? "I was told to ignore it, but I didn't feel like that worked. If I confronted them, it made it worse, if I continued to ignore it, they would be harsher. Ignoring it can work for some people and in some situations, but it wasn't working for me."
What next? "We reported it to the principal, teachers, counselors, and the police. They talked to the girls' parents. The girls got into a lot of trouble, but it didn't stop them. The school can only do so much for situations like mine which is where the police came into play. The Baldwin, Hudson, Woodville and county police had records of at least one incident," explained Morgan.
This is Morgan's story, but it's only part of it. This young woman, despite a seemingly never-ending nightmare, prevailed.
Next week: Morgan offers advice to those who are being bullied. She also reaches out to the bullies.