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Good grief! The 21st Century awakened everyone's eyes to the > tight-lipped secret of "school days, school days , dear ol’ broken rule > days." Unfortunately, they consist of more than readin' writin' and > rithmatic! Social caste system form early --- the athletes, the haves, the geeks, the have-nots, bullies/teasers and their “victims.” After the epidemic of school gun violence and a secret service report, the media and teaching professionals have opened their previously deaf ears to the impact of ostracism of school age peers which destroys confidence, self esteem, and social skills. Uttering the “tell someone , you will be heard” suggested solution may bring relief to those now in school. But what about survivors of bullying terrors? For endless years I endured nightmares resulting from bullies who pushed me down steps, knocked me in the head, and tossed lighted cigarettes in my pockets. I was the Christian “little guy” with asthma who refused to fight back, drink, swear, or smoke. Gym class was torture. To this day, I have a disdain for work outs, sweats and athletic shoes. I used to wake up nightly shivering from a recurring dream that the school had caught fire. I was on the second story and the steps were aflame. Then, the walls started collapsing. For years, I'd break into a sweat when the fire (drill) bell sounded. Eventually, I unwittingly programmed my dream ...I was Superman, so I leaped from the top step and landed on my feet exiting the school just as the walls started falling. (Don’t worry no one taught me to use a gun. I did want to purchase a Ringling Brothers lion for a bodyguard, though!) Therapy does not ease the hurts or fully calm the fears. For me, it took reentering college as a non-traditional student to finally experience normal pleasures and rites of youthful passage like attending a homecoming game and dance with Someone Special, visiting her family over the Holidays, and traveling with her to New York City for a romantic adventure. Unfortunately, bullying of a different variety helped torpedo that relationship. I endure a stigma of “different” due to my nerves. I have little self esteem, few social skills and more phobic behaviors than you can count on one hand. Perhaps, the newly found awareness of youthful peer torturing will help the young people today. But what about other survivors of bullying, who’ve lost the fullness of our potential due to classroom terrors? TONY E. RUTHERFORD, PO BOX 362 , HGTN , WV 25704 ,