My name is Robert Ingram, I was born with a cleft palate and lip. Due to the scars and constant surgeries school was very difficult. Children seemed to really enjoy hurting me, whether it was verbal, physical or emotional it didn’t seem to matter as long as they each got a turn at picking on the “flat nose”.
I remember middle school was the worst. I guess it is because this seems to be the time in children’s lives when they choose what groups they “belong” in. One incident I recall; I was working on a project in a technology class. The class was broken up into sections and we were paired with a partner. Sections were set around the class facing counters so we were facing away from the middle of the room. The hour was pure torture, every time I would turn around someone else would throw something at the back of my head. Kids in the class would laugh every time I was hit with a book, pencil, pen etc. I approached the teacher and explained what was happening but he just said “Don’t tattle”. I was really hurt, scared and confused every day. What had I done to make these people hate me? Why don’t I fit in? When will I be happy? Who do I blame for being born this way? For some reason the hardest thing to do was simply talk to someone about the constant abuse I would receive at school. My parents were very good people and I should have been able to talk with them about it but I couldn’t. I guess I was just too ashamed to talk about it. Finally it all came to a head during a gym class, I was 12 years old. Some kids started to tease me, as usual, and I started to verbally defend myself. This lead to them telling me they were going to beat me up after class. They followed through with the threat and promptly “jumped” me after class. I laid on the ground being kicked in the face, punched and hit with various items. I remember looking up through the violence to see a teacher simply watching, did not break it up. The bell Sounded for the next class and they scattered, leaving me beaten and bleeding on the ground. As I lay swollen and beaten on the ground I saw a pair of feet coming toward me, I figured it was someone else coming back to hurt me again. It was one of my only friends, he picked me up and helped me clean off. He handed me a card for martial arts classes which he attended regularly. This moment changed my life. Sense then I have been training in the martial arts for over 15 years. I was never in a fight after that that was not in the ring or at a tournament. I share this story in hopes that it will spread and people will be more aware of the problem. I share this story so parents will really pay attention to their children and signs of bullying. Most of all I have dedicate my life to the martial arts in order to stop another child from having to share a story like I am sharing right now. I really hope I can spread my story in hopes to help other kids and parents who may be going through what I went through as a child.
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