9OYS Continuing Coverage
"I have never forgotten their cruelties": Woman shares bullying experiences from decades ago
BENSON, Ariz. (KGUN9-TV) - As two southeastern Arizona boys wage a fight to end bullying, more people are coming to their side to also take a stand against it. Among them: a 73-year-old woman whose own experiences more than half a century ago changed her life.
9 On Your Side has covered the anti-bullying efforts of Levi Fallavollita and Gabe Villa for months. The two students in Vail wrote a book to teach kids what to do when they're harassed or hurt at school or online. 9 On Your Side was also there as they launched a new anti-bullying video campaign
When Constance Taylor first heard about the best friends, she rushed to her typewriter. The Benson woman wasted no time writing down her support of the 12 year olds and their efforts. She quickly mailed them her letter.
“I want to thank the two of you over and over for having the courage to address this very serious and common problem,” Taylor wrote in the two-page letter
. “For the success of your project, I again give God the glory in advance as the two of you have the potential to affect generations.”
Taylor is 73 years old, but said bullying has had a lasting affect on her starting more than half a century ago. She clearly remembers the girl in her third grade class everyone called "Cooties."
“I knew she couldn't feel very good,” Taylor told 9 On Your Side. “I was quite popular in the class and so I thought I could make an impression by becoming her friend. So that I did. Then, after that--it didn't take long--she was never called that name again.”
9 On Your Side reporter Kevin Keen asked Taylor, “Why has it stuck with you?” “I just never forget things that are cruel,” she answered.
The mother of two included this and other experiences in her letter.
“As you can see, I have never forgotten their cruelties,” the letter reads. “Bullying leaves victims with permanent scars of the kind we cannot see.”
“It's becoming more and more prevalent, as we know,” Taylor told Keen. “They are doing much more dangerous things to their victims.”
Taylor advocates helping victims, but also bullies themselves.
“The bully also needs compassion,” Taylor said. “He may not be a bully deep down. We need to understand why he's so angry and unhappy. He's not happy. He doesn't want to be like this.”
Fallavollita and Taylor hope to meet soon. Fallavollita plans to present her with a copy of his book, The Good, the Bad and the Bullies.