Many things happen every day around the world that are sad and terrifying. When I read about these tragic stories, I think to myself what can I do? These people are so far away.

When I hear about school shootings and students being stabbed, I think to myself: Could that happen to us? What would I do if it did? And how could I help those that are in pain because of loss of friends and family? They seem so distant.

I appear to be willing to help those I don’t know, but what about that girl in school today? Why didn’t I help her? Why did I stand in the shadows are watch her be tormented? Why did I cry for her, but do nothing to help her? Why oh why?

Was it because I didn’t want to be uncool? Or was it because I didn’t want to say the wrong thing? Or maybe it was about not wanting to get a black eye? I was because I was afraid, afraid that if I helped her, I too would be tormented.

But whatever the reason, I was wrong. I should have helped her. Whether I said something to her tormentor, or got tormented myself. Anything would have helped, anything but remaining silent. By remaining silent, not only was I hurting her, but I was also helping her tormentor. I should have stepped in, but I didn’t. And now I regret it.

You may not be able to help those in distant lands, but you can help those that you see every day. You may not think that saying something will make a difference, whether it be words of encouragement, or sticking up for them. But it still matters, more than you could ever imagine. Sticking up for someone, or encouraging them lets them know you care. Trust me, I would know, because I was one of the tormented.

~Jennifer A