OFF BEAT: Hit list a cry of pain

I never had a hit list. But we all probably knew people who did -- even if the list was just in their head.
Brandi Barhite
May 24, 2010


I never had a hit list.

But we all probably knew people who did -- even if the list was just in their head.

Michelle and I met in seventh-grade music class.

We weren't friends, but I was sympathetic.

Our classmates were brutal to her.

She had scoliosis and wore a back brace. She wasn't that smart. Her sense of humor was way off -- and frankly, she was kind of annoying to hang around.

I thought of Michelle this week when news surfaced about a 16-year-old Norwalk High School student who was expelled because of creating a hit list, which included the names of seven people she wanted to kill.

I couldn't help but wonder if she had been teased.

Plenty of people who are teased grow up to become functional, well-adjusted and happy adults. Others don't.

I just finished reading "Nineteen Minutes," by Jodi Picoult. She doesn't have answers for bullying either. She tells the fictional story of a boy who killed classmates as a way to protect himself from bullying. It was them or him, he reasoned.

I escaped being teased as a child. I tried to reach out to those not so fortunate.

Sometimes it was really uncomfortable doing the right thing -- being in junior high was hard enough.

I sat with Michelle at lunch -- even though all of my friends thought I was crazy.

I hung out with her during our free period, too.

I vividly remember sitting on the bleachers and a classmate walking up to us, and without provocation, starting poking fun at Michelle. She didn't let up, flinging one random insult after another.

I tried to stick up for Michelle, but it didn't help.

I wasn't influential enough to stop the bullying. But I was cool enough to not get teased myself.

All I could do is sit by Michelle as she took the blows.

I could feel them.

Maybe that's what we all need. To feel the pain. Or maybe that's why we bully. We are in pain.

I hope the Norwalk girl gets the help she needs before it's too late for her or others.