When I was a child I was bullied – a lot. But it wasn’t in the “traditional” sense from my peers. Oh I had my fair share of tough times with a few of them – seeing as how I never really fit into any particular mold, and having convinced myself I never really wanted to do so, preferring to move amongst all cliques than be beholden to any singular one. Today, after years of internal struggling, I have embraced my quite unique sense of focus that allows me to do what I love best – help people help themselves and join groups and individuals together in creative ways that they might not have seen themselves. All of this because I was bullied – a lot … by my parents.
I have numerous sets of parents, all of whom were abusers in one form or another. Because of this, I have no established relationships with any surviving parents. In order to move forward in a positive, affirming way with my life two things had to occur: I had to remove all negative influences. I had to completely forgive everyone for everything – as well as accept folks as they are. Forgiveness does not preclude forgetfulness. Forgetting does not include constantly living in the past. Acceptance does not preclude accountability, for which I am solely responsible for my own actions and behaviors (no one else’s, ever). Both of these “action items” were hard won; and I know I’m saving you a lot of details. 😉 But these days – most days – it is well with my soul.
When Overlord Protector #2 was in the fourth grade he suffered an incredibly horrible bullying experience, which his school AND the school district supported. However, I fearlessly supported and championed my child. Even though we were proven correct … even though the school district official responsible for supporting the bullying was fired … even though the perpetrator was not allowed to come back to my son’s school the following school year (having gone on to bully others) – the irreparable damage had been done to OP #2. He never fully recovered his trust of educators, certainly not administrators, or his love of learning in a school setting. It was a struggle getting him through high school. Fortunately he’s now at a point in life where he’s moving forward and taking accountability and responsibility. He’s in college with like-minded individuals (picture a “mini-me”), as well as educators who appreciate his unique sense of learning and just his “being.”
More-so from his experience than my own, I have been involved and work with national, state, and local organizations geared toward anti-bullying and anti-harassing initiatives. The ultimate goal is to completely rid our schools and society of bullying and harassing. For now, we work towards laws to protect all of our children from bullying and harassing – to include cyber-bullying. The best defense is having a strong support system! As a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle, godparent, mentor, and/or educator – KNOW the laws in your area and the plans in your school – and work with your children/students on how to prevent bullying and harassing. Role-playing is a VERY effective tool to help your children/students age-appropriately learn to deal and handle any bullying/harassing attempts. I have some great listed links with resources to help get you started.
The best ways? BE THE EXAMPLE. Be kind to one another – be kind to yourself! Have respect and open, loving acceptance for everyone – yourself, included. We need to have self-respect and self-worth if others are to give respect and support to us. We need to show faith and interest in folks and give them our respect and attention in order to get the same. Remember that each of us is not responsible for anyone else’s behavior – only our reactions to such. BE THE EXAMPLE … BE THE EXAMPLE … BE THE EXAMPLE!
Yours in Service,
Cyber-bullying – Let’s stop it together!
Caught in the Crowd – Kate Miller-Heidke
Bullied: A Student, a School and a Case that Made History – Southern Poverty Law Center’s eighth Teaching Tolerance documentary film and teaching kit
VA House Bill 1624 – The Commonwealth of Virginia’ Anti-Bullying, Anti-Harassing, and Anti-Intimidation Bill, amended to include cyber-bullying and additional language — passed on 2/28/2009.
“If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am ‘I’?” ~ Hillel the Elder
“The unloving belong only to themselves, but the loving belong to others to their very bones.” ~ Tirukkural 8: 71-72