Memories of being bullied come back to Scott McAdoo when he sees someone being taunted or watches a movie where a student in school shoves another.

“It takes two or three days to get over it,” he said. “You relive it sometimes.”

McAdoo, 36, of Waterville, shared those memories Tuesday in an unusually public way — to a packed City Council meeting — much to the surprise of those who know him.

He said he had been bullied all through school, called names, tripped, pushed, punched and kicked.

“I always hid in fear of going to school. What was going to happen to me next?”

One could hear a pin drop as McAdoo spoke. He said he was one of the lucky ones because a high school teacher took him under his wing and listened to and protected him.

He asked the mayor, councilors and residents to stand together and join many other communities in declaring October National Bullying Prevention Month to show that such behavior is not welcome in the city.

I met McAdoo downtown Wednesday morning to talk about why he came forth to tell his story.

He said he wants to spread awareness about bullying and hopefully help prevent children from being mistreated that way.

“Everyone knows someone who has been bullied,” he said. “It could be a mother, father, sons, daughters — like last night, it could be the person sitting next to you.”

He recalled what it was like, going to school when kids would target him every day.

“They did all kinds of things. They’d trip me. Walk by and shove me into lockers, walls. They’d come by sometimes and hit me in the arm. I got called different names.”

But McAdoo sees himself as lucky because at least he did not face cyberbullying.

“I graduated in 2001 so the whole Facebook social media was just coming into it. Especially now, you can bully people and you can be anonymous. You can hide behind a computer screen.”

Having grown up in the city’s South End, McAdoo said he told his parents about how he was treated and they reported it to the school. But the bullying didn’t stop, and the reality is teachers can’t be everywhere and did not witness the treatment, according to McAdoo.

“It really lowered my self-esteem. It made me wonder, what did I do to deserve it? Was there something about me that was wrong? It made me feel less of a person.”

The teacher who helped him in high school showed him that there are people who care.

“He said, ‘My door is always open.’ We’d sit and talk. If it wasn’t for that teacher, I probably wouldn’t have graduated. He actually really made me stick through it.”

It took a long time for McAdoo to come out of his shell. Becoming a community volunteer has helped a lot and he has made friends, he said.

For many years he has volunteered for and now is a member of a committee that organizes the annual Fourth of July celebration. McAdoo, who does odd jobs, including advertising work, is a member of the South End Neighborhood Association, Waterville Community Land Trust, Kennebec Messalonskee Trails and Healthy Northern Kennebec. He also volunteers for the annual Taste of Waterville and other events.

The dark-haired, mustached McAdoo is a familiar figure in Waterville, often walking in and around downtown and helping with projects. He also is a visible presence at council meetings where he frequently announces upcoming events.

McAdoo said that after Tuesday’s council meeting, Colby College President David Greene thanked him for his message about bullying, and Thomas College President Laurie Lachance did the same.

“She came up to me and said it took a lot of courage and she thanked me for getting it out there.”

The effects of bullying never go away, he said.

He recalled volunteering for the former South End Learning Center on Water Street many years ago and taking a little girl under his wing who was being bullied on the school bus. The girl moved away and later returned to Waterville, where she ran into McAdoo. He didn’t recognize her at first because she had changed so much, but she remembered him right away.

“It was neat to see her back,” he said. “She actually had just graduated. It just goes to show what kinds of things she went through and what I went through. She’s another one who didn’t cave. She graduated and I think she said she was going to be starting college in the fall.”

McAdoo said experiences like that, and the friends he has made through volunteering, have given him courage to speak out.

“It kind of gives me more confidence to say, ‘You know, I’ve been through it, too.'”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter for 30 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.

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