Sequoia Henry is a Grade 10 Huntsville High School student who wanted to come forward and share his story on what it’s like to be bullied. He came to the Forester to raise awareness in hopes of bringing bullying to an end for himself and others. This is Sequoia’s story.
BULLYING MUST STOP.
A Huntsville High School student has come forward to share his story on being bullied to help put an end to it at his school.
Photo illustration by Mandi Hargrave
HUNTSVILLE – To look at Sequoia Henry is to see a high school student with good looks, brains and maturity far beyond his age. But behind the big, blue eyes and warm smile is a 15-year-old who fears going to school every day. A young man who has contemplated suicide every day for the past year. Every day. For the past year.
Henry is bullied.
Committing one kind act two weeks into his first year of high school changed his life. Suddenly he became a target.
“There was an overweight girl getting bullied and harassed by this one fellow in my class and I just didn’t really think it was appropriate or acceptable so I asked him to stop,” said Henry. “Ever since, him and his friends have been bullying me.”
It started with Henry being pushed around, having juice poured on him in class and progressed to rocks being thrown at him, pop bottles full of urine thrown at him and then death threats.
“You always get the feeling when you wake-up that you’re never good enough to wake-up,” said Henry. “I keep in a lot of the anger and frustration that I have against these kids and I let it out at home.”
Henry’s anger builds to the point where he has verbal outbursts toward his mother, he shuts his father out and he punches walls.
Seeing the effect his torment has on his family and friends just adds to his burden.
“It hurts more. I feel that it’s my fault that they’re sad or mad,” he said with tears in his eyes. “You’re not good enough for your parents, and you’re not good enough for the high school, who are you good enough for?”
There are about 20 bullies in the group who harass Henry, some of whom are 18 years of age.
“I wake up sometimes in the middle of the night having panic attacks,” said Henry. “When I get stressed-out I throw up. One time I threw up so hard I popped blood vessels in my eyes. I also got made fun of for that too.”
His behaviour at school has changed. He’s late for classes in his attempts to dodge the bullies.
“Every day I have to wait around in class because most of them have lockers around my classes,” he said. “I have to drop my pencils and go sharpen them. I never take some staircases; I take the other way, which takes an extra five minutes. If you do pass them, they’ll stare you down the whole time, or say something, or push you.”
It’s a constant threat that doesn’t end when the final bell rings. There have been days when Henry receives a text from a friend telling him not to go to his locker because a group of bullies is waiting there for him or they’ll be waiting outside or even hunt him down off school property.
Often Henry feels alone, as all but one of his close friends just silently stand by and watch.
“It’s your friends telling you to fight them too. You get texts like ‘you’re a pussy, you’re a chicken’ because you backed out. You’re afraid too because I’ve seen fights before where you fight them and then their friends come out and if you have nobody to back you up you’re dead,” he said. “The whole school just wants to see a fight. There’s nobody out there to help you, even if it is your best friend, they’re going to be there videotaping it. There are videotapes of fights that happen at this school that have 3,000 views on YouTube.”
What makes it worse for students who are bullied is knowing not even teachers at the school can step in and breakup the fight.
“They just blow a whistle,” said Henry. “What if it was a big guy beating me up, they couldn’t stop it and if I hit back I’m getting charged. That’s why it’s hard to wake-up and go to school everyday. I’ve missed a lot of class because I’m not going to school to get beat up and charged like that. There’s no point.”
Henry has confronted one of the youths that bully him.
“When I explained to him how I feel, he got teary-eyed because he was bullied in Grade 9 and Grade 10,” said Henry.
After their one-on-one talk in the principal’s office, he said this older youth has eased off bullying him.
Henry said he’s decided to speak about the issue openly.
“I’m not just doing it for myself. I’m doing it for everybody who can’t stand up. If there was just one person that would cut it short it wouldn’t be happening today,” he said.
He wants the school and school board to take more of an active role in stopping bullying. He would like to see them encourage bullied students to come forward instead of leaving it up to them, because they already feel alone.
When Henry approached his school about this he was told that’s what groups like Me to We and the school parliament is for. However, he said some of the kids responsible for bullying him and others are involved with these groups.
“It’s being a hypocrite all the way around and leaving it to the bullies to stop bullying,” he said. “We can stop bullying, we just need people to stand up.”
Henry approached the Forester with his story before the death of 15-year-old BC resident Amanda Todd. He said it’s unfortunate that it takes a story of a youth losing his or her life over and over for people to stand up and get behind anti-bullying causes, as people’s determination to fight bullying fades as soon as the death is out of the news.
“Do you just want a mass slaughter of every human being so they stand up for a long time?” he questioned. “Getting it heard, getting it stopped would stop a lot of deaths and a lot of people getting bullied and change society from the mess that it is right now.”
Henry gave a speech to about 75 teachers during a staff meeting on Monday to draw attention to bullying at Huntsville High School and ask them to take a stand and help stop it.
In next week’s Forester, Henry’s parents will share their story.
*Editor's Note: Henry has since posted a video on YouTube in which he addresses the issues with teachers.