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dreamstimexxl1280pI woke up this morning feeling ecstatic as today was the first day of grade 5 and I couldn't wait. My Dad dropped me off to school with a huge smile and a warm hug. I spotted my best friend climbing up the stairs.

"Wait up Ayana!" I called out to her but she simply ignored me and went ahead. That was strange! I felt bad but I didn't want to let that ruin my first day of school!

I soon approached my classroom and was greeted by my teacher. For the first two periods after introducing ourselves, it was only fun and games, until a new girl entered our classroom with her mom. Our teacher and the new girl's mom went outside to have a conversation. Meanwhile, inside the classroom, everyone was just staring at her. I can imagine how she must have been feeling. Our teacher, Miss Amber, introduced us to the new girl. "Liviana is from Hawaii, and has recently shifted from there. Please make her feel comfortable and welcome." 

It was snack break. I was with my friends Ayana, Katie and Riana when we overheard a few girls discussing about how a despicable lad in our class had bullied Liviana because her skin color was more tanned than others. He referred to her as Blackie. We needed to inform Miss Amber right away but didn’t, as we didn’t want to get dragged into a fight.   I wondered how that bully would feel if everyone called him Burnt brown toast. I bet he'd go wailing back home to his parents. 

The news of this incident spread like wildfire. Soon the Vice-Principal summoned and lectured us on how bullying can be offensive and spiteful. She scolded that boy who made an excuse saying that he was just being honest. Our vice-principal went on to say that honesty is not always the best policy. If you go for a birthday party, and didn't like the cake, you don't have to be rude and tell somebody that, you can just keep quiet so no one's feelings get hurt. "Hurtful words once said cannot be taken back. It's like a bullet out of a gun, she ended.

bullying-309621669When we went back into the classroom, I asked Ayana why she ignored me in the morning. She told me that her mom had shouted at her and so she was in a bad mood. Soon enough she apologized and we became best friends again!

I pondered on what made children still bully others as everyone wants to be a superhero that save's the day. I thought back on my friends' behavior and realized that if people mistreat you it's most likely that you will ape their behavior and tend to apply it on another person who's weaker than us. Instead, shouldn't we be more empathetic to people who are weaker than us? Keeping quiet and observing others being bullied is also not acceptable, as one day we could be the victims too.  And yes, sometimes honesty isn't the best policy if it hurts others, saying nothing is better.

In different situations, we are either the aggressor, the victim or the by stander. We play all three of these roles at different times and none of them are acceptable. This is something we persistently need to be reminded of.

Author: Aliya Shetty Oza from India.

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