LEWISTON — “Joy” is 13 and an eighth-grader at Lewiston Middle School. She didn’t feel comfortable sharing her story in front of a group of other middle-schoolers at a recent Sun Journal forum, so she spoke to the newspaper separately.

For years, she said, she’s been bullied by other students.

“This past year I was actually told to kill myself because I’m overweight and I’m a bigger person,” she said. “They were telling me to not eat and to be anorexic because of my weight.”

The bullying started in elementary school, but it wasn’t intense and the bouts of taunting went away after a week or so. It got worse in middle school.

“My weight has always been difficult for me. People have always found a way to come at me with that,” she said.

Joy’s go-to method for handling the worst of the ridiculing: tell a trusted teacher. It’s a remedy that usually works.

Earlier this year, when another student repeatedly walked by her in the hallway and whispered in her ear that she should kill herself, Joy talked to a teacher. The teacher, she said, “kept an eye on me for a while and the bullying stopped.”

She never learned if the bully got in trouble.

She said she’s not sure that high school will be any better or worse — just different. But maybe good.

“I’m nervous but I’m also excited because I know it’s like the steps to my future,” she said.

Joy isn’t willing to let the bullying change her.

“In the beginning, I definitely wanted to change who I was,” she said. “As I’ve experienced it more, I’ve learned that I shouldn’t let it get to me and I’m fine with who I am. My mom has always told me that, and a lot of friends, too.”


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