I am so excited to share the news that I am a now Youth Ambassador for Bystander Revolution! Bystander Revolution is an anti-bullying organization founded in April 2014 with a mission to inspire and motivate people to take the power out of bullying with simple acts of kindness, courage, and inclusion
Ten-year-old Hannah used to love going to school but now the Ontario fourth grader is too scared to return and her mother Nicola can't blame her. On Monday, Hannah experienced the second of two incidents of bullying with a disturbingly sexual tone. Hannah's mother spoke to the school principal, and although the boy admitted to the incident, as far as she knows no further action was taken by the school. As of Wednesday, Nicola's calls to the superintendent and her school trustee had not been returned, and the principal did not respond to a request for comment for this post.
I was walking down the hall at school after mass, when I felt a hard smack in the back of my head. It wasn't unexpected. Kids had been calling me names like "stupid retard," poking, and threatening me for weeks before it happened. But after it happened I was still in shock. Unfortunately, since I was blindsided, I still have no idea who did it. Nobody who walked down the hall with me that day will speak up and help identify the bully. I'm not going to fight back the way the bullies want me to. Instead, I'm going to speak up and not suffer in silence.
I decided it was time to take action. I started seeing a counselour and began the difficult task of dealing with the beliefs and feelings I had built up as a result of the bullying. My counselour helped me identify links between the trauma I had endured and the choices I had made as an adult. Learning about these patterns blew my mind.
A rule that has an unclear or ridiculous purpose is, on its face, unfair. A rule that cannot possibly achieve its purpose is pointless. A rule that has more negative than positive effects is unfair and undemocratic. Discipline or punishment that does not address the behaviour it purports to correct is tyrannical.
Her eyes say it all: "You disgusting little piece of garbage -- who cares what you have to say, anyway?" He crumbles into a mess of tears and sobs, seemingly brokenhearted that he has just been publicly rejected. This was the fourth instance of bullying that I was privy to today. What stood out to me in each of the four incidents was who was doing the bullying: girls.
I don't know if your face fell. I don't know if inside you crumbled into tiny little pieces. I don't know how many times you've heard those words before. I don't know if you even believed them. But I got the feeling that this might not have been the first time. And in the instant it took to process what just had happened, a million memories flashed through my mind.
One of the bullies caught up to me, and grabbed at my bag. Taking hold of the strap of my green school bag that fit snuggly against my pink snowsuit, he swung me around. The other boy came next, taunting and screaming at me: "Dirty Paki." These words have haunted me for years, and I fear they will haunt my daughter as well.
Unlike most emotional injuries, the core and source of the pain never changes at all -- I can go right back to December 5, 2006 literally in a heartbeat. I try not to do that, and therein lies one of the fundamental truths of the matter. Even I thought that by now I'd be free of the worst effects of my experience, I've come to realize that that sort of wishful thinking doesn't ring true.
Weight bias is one area of bullying that is not only condoned but also seemingly tolerated. Even though most school systems include some type of bullying awareness program in their curriculum, more times than not, overweight children are left out of these programs. Weight bias remains the one area of bullying that receives little or no attention and is not even listed as a factor in many definitions of bullying.
"My daughter is 11 years old.The boys and the girls at school call her names that shouldn't even exist. They tell her she's ugly, that her face is like a pancake smothered in poop. They have created a 'We hate Brittany' club. I tell myself all the time -- 'this has to stop. And it has to stop now. Today.' But it never does."
In 2011, I was introduced to an amazing young man named Jamie Hubley after reading a headline about his death, "Ottawa teen takes his own life because of severe bullying." When I was done reading, I was frozen in my bed and thought about the connections between my story and Jamie's. I decided to create my own project called "Bullying Ends Here." I had no clue how big this initiative would become.
When my son was six, he began to wear ties to school. He wears either a dress shirt and tie or full suit and tie every single day. I don't even see it any more. But others do. For the most part, all of the attention he has received has been positive. But once, in Grade 2, he received a different kind of attention.