“Who wears pigtails still? What is this kindergarten?” Those words that may seem like a just little tease and easily ignored, were the last straw for Maisie Kate Miller, a sophomore in high school, who was often the target for the school bully. Aside from her hair, she was bullied about her body, clothes and boyfriend. The last incident occurred in a stairwell at school when the bully made fun of Maisie’s hairstyle. When Maisie turned around to face her bully the girl snapped at her to keep walking. After crying over the incident, Maisie turned to her Facebook page to share her feelings with her friends and ask them to stand up to the bully by wearing pigtails the next day. What occurred was a shocking outpour of support from hundreds of people. The next day at school almost every student wore pigtails, girls, boys, and even a few teachers, to show their support for her. As a result the bullying has stopped, not only for Maisie but for other victims in her school as well. So often we hear stories about the negative outcome of bullying, most of the time before it’s too late to help the victim, that I think it is refreshing to hear how a community came together to put a stop to the problem and show that it is never okay to bully someone.
Dr. Michele Borba, an award-winning author and spokes person for bully prevention, advocates for mobilizing bystanders to help stop bullying. In a blog entry she wrote on her website, she says how when bystanders stand up for the victim they are reducing the audience that the bully craves. “The right comment and behaviors can make peers stop, think, consider the consequences and even move on. Bystanders make the difference. They can be mobilized to stop in and reduce peer cruelty.” In this case by just the simple act of wearing their hair in pigtails, students passively put a stop to the bullying. Instead of confronting her bully outright, or using violence, Maisie came up with a creative and successful way to show her bully that she is not going to let those words get to her.
I applaud Maisie for having the courage to reach out for help and not let the bullying continue any further. This story also shows how the power of social media, which itself can be a platform for bullying, can be used for good. It brought a community together and made a difference in many students lives. Since the incident Maisie has reached out to her former bully, who was going through a difficult time and now feels remorse about her actions.