I have witnessed a lot of cruelty in my life but rarely does anything compare to the cruelty I saw and was often the victim of in the 7th and 8th grade.
I have always prided myself on being the optimistic sort, confident that there is no challenge that can't be met in some way. I've always felt that nothing is impossible. But I have to confess that it is hard -- damn hard -- to feel hopeful about the bullying epidemic in this nation, not when it continues to take kids lives.
As a parent, it is critically important that we let our children know that they can come to us for help. It is equally important that we know exactly how to respond so that we don't make the situation worse.
On October 6, Cartoon Network will be debuting a new movie called Contest aimed at raising awareness about bullying. It's National Bullying Prevention Month, and Cartoon Network just might have the highest amount of eyeballs in the right age demographic to help put a dent in the problem.
Rita-Clare LeBlanc had reached the darkest moment of her young life. The months of bullying at her high school had taken a toll and she decided to end her life and become yet another statistic of Nova Scotia's abysmal bullying record. She sat alone in her room and started to swallow her father's blood pressure pills. She was going to take as many as she could before passing out and dying. Fortunately, before the point of no return, her mother walked in and made her throw up the pills. She held her, cried with her, and together they vowed to do whatever it took to put Rita-Clare's promising life back together. Her story sounds so familiar by now.
If the goal of opposing workplace bullying is indeed to promote more humane workplace environments, decrease workplace aggression, and reduce the potential for workplace violence, shaming targets or shaming bullies is counterproductive.
As a culture, let's really look at why we are accepting of 'confession pages,' and the proliferation of apps such that make it easier than ever for social cruelty to spread like a cancer into the hearts and minds of young people.
We need to start at the beginning. Support our children. Educate all children. Rework the justice system. Help those who make small mistakes to atone for them and reintegrate successfully into society, rather than losing them into the system.
In the fourth grade, I had the toughest teacher of my life: Ms. Daly. She wasn't physically imposing, or necessarily mean; she was smart, tough and didn't take any crap. She was going to teach us, and we were going to learn, come hell or high water. It's like she combined the roles of parent and teacher into one authority-figure superhero. That year, I had my first proper fist fight.
There are many ways to help a child establish better boundaries, but the most important one is built upon what he observes in the behavior of those he watches most carefully -- his parents and primary caregivers.
On Saturday, it will be 10 months since my daughter, Amanda, left us. I am trying to keep myself busy so I don't feel that dark cloud come upon me as it does every month. I am excited to meet all the people who have come into my life in the past 10 months. They all have made a difference and that's what it is all about. They rally around and support and make change. I am so happy to finally meet, hug, say hello and share stories. These are all warm and giving people.
I know what you're thinking. This party is a set-up. You're going to be on the hot seat. Don't worry one little bit about that. I made strict rules that you are not to be bullied, and I plan to enforce them. Everyone must act respectfully toward you or they will be asked to leave.
I began my anti-bullying initiative in mind in late-2012 for one reason: to tell the world about a boy named Jamie Hubley and how bullying-related deaths like his are preventable. I have spoken in four provinces to date and am now confirmed to speak in six more this coming school year. I have been asked to present to over 500 schools across the Canada and the United States and now turn to you for help.
Be willing to be vulnerable, befriend your fears, and remember that this situation is happening for you, not to you. It's helping you step out of victim into mastery of yourself. It's helping you expand even more into who you are.
There is no age limit on bullying. Winston Churchill wrote: "You have enemies? Good. That means you have stood up for something in your life." Bullies don't stand up for anything. They tear down. They covet. They do that to fill their empty spaces while those who are bullied are seeking something and often that something is different from the every day.
Cyberspace is the 2013 version of the playground, and with it comes potential for great danger, as its reach is massively unlimited. Here's what parents can do to safeguard their children.