Authors K.M. Parr and K.C. Neal are hosting a Spread <3, Not Hate event, and the moment I saw it I knew I had to be part of it.
Bullying has been a large part of my life almost as long as I can remember. I have vivid memories as far back as grade one where at least one child in my class targeted me for some reason or another. As a child I rarely knew what it was about me that made others want to pick on me so, but as I have grown older, wiser, and have a child of my own I can see sometimes it was out of jealousy for my intelligence and also because of the unique way I observed and interacted with the world. I have never been formally diagnosed, but as a mother of a boy with ADHD and ASD I can now see symptoms in myself. I remember "wanting" friends, but not really knowing how to interact with them. I would often much rather sit in the corner and do extra work and/or read then really play with the other children. Even now I often catch myself not really being interested in the lives of others around me. It's not my fault. It's not my son's fault either. We are just wired differently. But people don't understand that, and unfortunately their first reaction to something different is usually to attack it and keep it as far from themselves as possible. And it's not just the children doing the bullying. It's often teachers, parents, other family members, bosses, co-workers, and relationship partners. It's never-ending. Bullying is everywhere.
It was bad enough for me back then, having to sit through class with these children, and sometimes to be followed home by them, being called names all the way home...sometimes they would even throw things at me, trip me, etc. It was horrible. Today it is even worse with social media allowing children to attack one another even after school, online, for the whole world to see. They feel that they are invincible and can say anything they want because there is no face to the person they are torturing. It's disgusting.
My son is currently being bullied. It's heartbreaking. I try everything to deal with it, but he is embarrassed by it. He often doesn't even tell me things that have happened for days, or weeks, because he knows I am going to call the school and cause a scene until they do something about it. Because someone has to.
More needs to be done about bullying. The schools, and the parents of the bullies, often don't take matters serious enough, and then all of a sudden there is a suicide, or even a death caused by the bullying actions. And then what happens? Oopps? We're sorry? It's not enough.
Victims need to know that it will get better and that they need to hold on, as much as possible. Often they feel they just can't take it any more, and then they are gone, forever. We need to support them as much as we can and let them know that one day everything will be OK, they just need to be strong a little while later. You have to be your child's cheerleader.
Bullies need to be aware of what damage they are doing, and can possibly do in the future, to these kids they are picking on. I'm not going to say it's an excuse, but I think sometimes they don't get it either. Sometimes it's a way to vent their frustrations and to deal with bad family life and other issues bothering them. Someone needs to talk to the bullies and find out WHY they are doing what they are doing, and get them help too!
I think every class should be forced to do the crumpled paper exercise:
"A teacher in New York was teaching her class about bullying and gave them the following exercise to perform. She had the children take a piece of paper and told them to crumple it up, stamp on it and really mess it up but do not rip it. Then she had them unfold the paper, smooth it out and look at how scarred and dirty is was. She then told them to tell it they’re sorry. Now even though they said they were sorry and tried to fix the paper, she pointed out all the scars they left behind. And that those scars will never go away no matter how hard they tried to fix it. That is what happens when a child bullies another child, they may say they’re sorry but the scars are there forever. The looks on the faces of the children in the classroom told her the message hit home."
This is so true! I don't think a day goes by when I think about at least one person who bullied me. I still have nightmares about particularly bad bullying events. It never goes away. I have had a few adults approach me through Facebook and apologize for the way they treated me in school. Did it make me feel better? A little bit. Did it make everything OK and peachy again? Not even close. The nightmares are still there. The emotional scars are still there.
So please, be educated. Watch you child for signs of being bullied, or being the bully. Don't be that parent who says "Oh my son or daughter would never do that!" Take a closer look and stop lying to yourselves. You are hurting too many people by ignoring it.
As you can tell I am very passionate about this subject. In fact I am SO passionate that I want to host a giveaway to help "Spread Love, Not Hate".
All you have to do is share a bullying story that touched your heart, either in a good or bad way, or, share some advice on how to promote anti-bullying to our youth today. You don't even have to be a follower. I don't care about that. Let's just share our stories with everyone. If we even reach one person out there it will be worth it! (Additional points can be earned but are not required to enter.)
The prize is the choice of ONE of the following bullying themed books. The giveaway is open internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to you.
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