Friday, October 19, 2012

Authors Against Bullying 2012 - We Can Make a Change!

"I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everthing, but still I can do something; I will not refuse to do something I can do." ~ Helen Keller

Stop Bullying
My mom marched to a different drummer from the time she took her first step.  Add to that the fact that she was genetically obese from early childhood (she weighed 200 lbs at age 10 while her siblings were all in the normal ranges) and she was the perfect target for bullies.  Only she wasn't.

She was a crusader and she taught her children to be crusaders too.  So, I went to school in hand-me-down clothes that didn't fit, my socks often didn't match and I was on the free-lunch program, but I was a crusader.  I boycotted class in 4th grade because my best friend was being teased.

My baby sister?  She was a crusader too, but feisty as Miss Scarlett, she was still a target.

She refused to conform, refused to give in to peers and their pressure to be like them when she found them objectionable.  And she spent four years in high school being tormented, verbally ridiculed and physically targeted.  The post traumatic stress was deep and ingrained and as the mother of an adult child and two teens, she still physically shakes when she thinks one of them might have become the same kind of target, or the issue of bullying comes up. My sister is strong.  Really, really strong.  As a family, we've survived some of the hardest stuff life has to offer and she's faced it head-on personally, but bullying leaves scars.

Stand Up to Bullying
Each one of my three children have faced one form of bullying, or another.  Their dad and I did whatever we could, including changing schools (taking one out of private school and putting him in public and another out of public and putting her in private), coaching them on how to deal , talking to teachers, administrators and counselors and it made a difference, but it didn't make life perfect.

Neither did boycotting my class in the 4th Grade, but it did make a difference.  Those boys never called my friend "hamburger" again.  Can you imagine?  The innocence of a time when being likened to fast food was the ultimate insult.  Sigh...  Anyway, we make a difference when we act, even if that action makes us look over zealous and protective (as more than one teacher and other parent accused me of being) or just plain silly (I boycotted by going into the coat closet and refusing to come out.).

Adult Bullying in the Workplace
Maybe you don't have children or teens in your life and you think, bullying isn't a problem for you, but then you'd be wrong.  This societal blight infects our adult interactions as well.  Bosses and colleagues bully employees to the point of causing serious physical and psychological health issues, coaches are allowed to call their adult players the vilest of names in the guise of "inspiring them to greatness", customers bully service industry workers because they can - getting loud and abusive and thinking that is acceptable behavior.

I once stood in line behind a woman berating the sales clerk at Macy's to the point that clerk was near tears. I stepped in with my "mom voice" (I got it from my mother - how I miss that woman!) and gently reminded the woman ahead of me about manners.  Now, it could have gone badly.  She could have turned and started yelling at me.  Frankly, I would have preferred that at that point, I felt that badly for the sales associate.  The other customer didn't.  She reigned it in. She apologized.

Will intervention always be met with a positive result?  Absolutely not, especially if it's handled with belligerence. (I have gotten dirty looks, nasty comments and been ignored on other occasions.)  Should that stop us from doing something?  No.  Sometimes, what we can do is smile and commiserate after, just letting the hurting person know somebody cares and it is *not* okay they were treated in such a way.

Sometimes, standing up to the bullies means being the first one to step out with something positive and kind to say.  Being the first one to say to the rest of the world, "This person has value.  I'll call this person friend, colleague, teammate, etc. with pride."  It means not being bullies ourselves, even temporarily.  It means changing how we respond to the world and incidents of bullying.  It means setting aside our own prejudices and belief that we can treat others differently because they aren't who we want or expect them to be.

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” ~ Mahatma Gandhi

What about you?  Have you experienced bullying?  What is your favorite thing to do to make the world a friendlier place?

I look forward to hearing what you have to say!


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Resource links for anti-bullying:
Ambassadors 4 Kids
Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center
Peace Builders
Stop Bullying

Some disturbing statistics:
  • Every 30 minutes a teenager attempts suicide due to bullying.
  • About 47 teens are bullied every five minutes.
  • Victims of cyber bullying show more signs of depression than other bullying victims.
  • Cyber bullying is on the rise in dramatic numbers; it is relentless and more frightening if the bully is anonymous.
  • There are about 282,000 students who are reportedly attacked in high schools in our nation each month.
  •  71 percent of students report bullying as an ongoing problem.
  • The leading cause of death among children under the age of 14 is suicide.
  • “Bullycide” is the new term for suicide as a result of being bullied.
  • Teens in grades 6 through 10 are most likely to be involved in activities related to bullying.
  • Almost half of all students fear harassment or bullying in the bathroom.
Source: National Institutes of Health, SAFE, Tony Bartoli

Stop by these other author blogs and read articles, personal testimonials and interviews as authors speak out against bullying:


Mary Preston said...

The statistics are horrifying. I was never bullied thank goodness.


mandymroth said...

Thank you for sharing your story. I will never understand how people can be so cruel to others and you're right, manners are a must!

Raonaid Luckwell said...

Yes I have bullied. It is why I hate to think of my years in junior high school and high school.

In junior high it was because I didn't dress like the others. I wore hand-me-downs and not the latest fashion.

Highschool it was because I liked hard rock and metal. NOT country that was the norm for the rest.

I stood out.

Sabrina said...

In primary school I was bullied for years on end. I don't like to talk about it much so I also don't write about it.

But back then there was a girl, not in the same class as me, but we were friends. When she got bullied, she got bullied by the same people who bullied me. I stayed her friend though. I walked home with her after school and sat with her during lunch breaks. It felt like the right thing to do. Yet, now that I am older, I wish I had the courage to do something more.

Nowadays I feel there is not much I can do, except blog about it (which I did today and yesterday). If I knew someone who was being bullied, I'd definitely reach out.

Donna said...

I was never one of the cool kids so I was bullied on occasion at school but it was nothing compared to the bullying I got at home. I think my kids had it worse at school as some of the social filters we had as kids have eroded to the point of non-existence. In some ways it is better. There is more information out there and role models are speaking up and out against bullies. More needs to be done at home, in schools and in the media. I think blogging about this is a good thing.
1_trouble AT msn DOT com

Lucy Monroe said...

Thank *you*, Mandy, for spearheading this effort!

Mary...they are and it's up to us to change them.

Raonaid...many that bully do so because they were first made a target themselves. It's up to us as a society to teach our children and adults a different way to respond, isn't it?

Sabrina...your blog is really affirming. As adults, we (hopefully) feel more power than we did as children, but always remember - you *were* a child and you did what you could.

Donna...when you are bullied in the one place you should be safe, it leaves a lasting sense of insecurity. I hope you take time even now to remember you are a person with value and that you *never* deserved it. The bullying came because of the brokenness in the people who bullied, not a lack in you. Full stop.

Hugs to you all!

Bella_C said...

It is so scary to think of the environment our kids our entering in today's schools and online networking. It IS our duty to step in, even if that means facing anger and resentment from the other party. As a mom, I feel it's my duty to instill confidence and courage in my children, and to also teach them kindness and respect so that they themselves do not become bullies. Thankfully, you were an excellent role model in that regard and I know you will be a huge influence and inspiration as they grow older, just like Grandma was for me. Love you:)

Lucy Monroe said...

Love you too, Bella! :) I'll tell you, I've no doubts my grandchildren will bet the crusaders of their generation because my kids rock as parents! :)

Beth Reimer said...

bullies make me see red I just can't stand it
I stood up for a boy who was much younger than I was becasue he was being picked on by two older boys why is it they travel in packs. Anyway I just couldn't take it and i came down on them I don't know what i said but i can tell you it made quite the impression on my little brother and the little boy.

Lucy Monroe said...

Good for you, Beth! You rock! xoxo

Pamela Labud said...

Hi all! Thank you for your moving comments. As the heavy girl in school my whole life, I too knew what it was like to be bullied. We called it 'teasing' back in the 60's and my mom's answer was just to ignore it. I did, and like many, I suffered in silence. Fast forward, my daughters were both overweight, but neither one would accept being bullied. In fact, my youngest and her friend saw a kid who was bi-sexual being bullied at lunch one day, she and her pals stood up for him and professed, "from now on, you sit with us!" I'm so proud of her an of all who stand up to this terrible thing. Bullying in any form is not acceptable. Keep up the good words! Thank you for caring.

robertsonreads said...

Hi Lucy,
Thank you so much for sharing your family's and your story. We all need to stand up to bullying. Yes, I was bullied in school, as I was 1 of 7 kids, we didn't have much growing up, hand-me-downs, my mom made some of our clothes (and at that time, I didn't appreciate that like I should have), free lunches, etc. Now as an adult, I don't plan to be bullied. If I see someone else being bullied, I will speak up, whether it's a kid or an adult. Just because these bullies are insecure, and I think that is why they do what they do, doesn't mean the rest of us have to put up with them.
Thank you for your time and stance on this issue.

Lucy Monroe said...

Pamela...your comment gave me goosebumps! Good for your daughter and good for you raising her with confidence!

Ginger...I love you to death and I hope you know that! Mega hugs! :)

Julie Chicklitasaurus said...

I'm really glad you told that customer to stop bullying that sales clerk. I think some people get too caught up in "social order" and then don't realize that they've crossed a line and are now bullying. Or maybe they do know, and they need a reminder to change. Good for you! xo

Lucy Monroe said...

Big hugs, Julie! :)

Valerie said...

I more than love you, Lucy, I adore you! :Big Hugs!:
As another genetically overweight girl, I have been there. Add to it that I started school in the early 70s when calorie counting became the latest fad you can imagine how lovely it was to be called Valerie Calorie! I cringe even now writing it.

I switched schools in first grade, we moved from one side of town to the other. My town was only 6 miles long so it wasn't that big of a move, but it might as well have been a completely different move. So my first week of school, half way through 1st grade, I met a whole bunch of new kids and they were under the impression that because I was "chubby" that meant I had muscle. So at first I got picked for the "team" events because they thought I would be stronger than the thinner girls. But that, of course, was not the case. So that's when the bullying and teasing started. I'd never had that happen before, my old school, no one did that. No one called me Valerie Calorie or made fun of me because I couldn't do the sport. Which I personally believe was a dumb sport thing, a really big ball taller than I was and 20 kids around it in a circle all pushing it towards each other. I don't even know what we were supposed to be learning from it!

So that's the first time I remember it happening really. And the thing is, I ended up going to school with those same kids for the next eleven years. I'm still friends with a lot of the kids I met in first grade and some of them are the ones that helped me get through that even though at the time I didn't realize it was wrong. I just knew it made me feel bad. I started to look for people "like me" and what's worse I started to look for those people and internally judge them...oh she's way bigger than me...I am okay then. Which makes me feel like a terrible person. I don't think I've ever bullied or teased anyone, and to this day I hate for anyone to comment on someone else's (even celebrities) weight or the word fat or obese. It's just a trigger for me that I have to deal with.

Of course the bullying didn't stop there, and I still run into issues with it. But I really believe and try to treat everyone with kindness. I am often accused of being too nice. You know what though, I don't think you CAN be too nice. You never know what kind of day the person you are talking to just had. You never know if this is the day that's going to break a person. People who are suicidal don't always talk about dying, they don't always give signs that they are thinking about it. You never know what kind of difference a smile and a kind word can make to a person who receives so few of them.

Valerie said...

For clarification sake, I meant to say it might as well have been a completely different world. Not move. My fingers got ahead of my mind. ;)

Michelle Pillow said...

When people refer to HS as the "best years of your life" I just give them a blank look. You couldn't pay me enough to go back. I just wish I knew in HS what I have learned as an adult.

Thanks for the post :) It's nice being part of such a positive day.

Lucy Monroe said...

Valerie...I have those same triggers. I *hate* when people comment on other people's weight - either too fat or too thin. It's a judgement that always hurts. You *are* one of the kindest people I know and I adore that about you. You are also my hero as you battle with many of the same anxieties I do, but you *win*! You rock!

Michelle...Ditto! Hugs!