ANDERSON, Ind. — When Brittany Mason left Anderson High School she never planned to come back.
“When I left Anderson, I left and went far away,” she said.
Mason went on to become Miss Indiana in 2008 and a successful model and actress. She was recently featured on the 200th episode of “Two and a Half Men” as a guest star and has worked with supermodel Naomi Campbell.
But Mason’s memories of her hometown high school were dark and bitter. At the beginning of her junior year, Mason said she had to drop out of the public school system and completed her education at home because she was a victim of bullying.
On Wednesday, the 27-year-old Mason returned to the high school for the first time in 10 years. She spent the day talking to juniors and seniors about her days of torment and fear and she encouraged the students to take a stance against bullying. Today she will talk to freshmen and sophomores.
“I want to see a change in this community and I need your help,” she told the juniors at Anderson High School.
For Mason, the bullying started her freshman year. She said she was often teased, but some of the bullying took place in front of school administrators who did nothing to help her.
“Back then it was known as a rite of passage,” Mason said. “It tears a kid apart. They carry those emotions with them forever.”
The bullying also followed Mason home. She said her tires were slashed, Barbie dolls with the heads ripped off were strewn across her lawn and red paint was poured all over her yard. When Mason reported the bullying to school authorities she said they did not help her.
“I handled it the wrong way and it got so out of hand,” she said. “When I tried to get help, it was too late. They did not believe me.”