“Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make yours shine any brighter”
I remember as child being bullied, laughed at, picked on and sitting alone at lunch because I was chubby, shy and because my mom made my clothes. I remember sitting alone on the bus holding in tears because I so badly wanted someone to sit with me and talk. Most would think that because I went to Catholic school for elementary there would not be bullying, but I can assure you there was plenty – playground, lunch room, classroom, bathroom, it happened. I share this experience with you because at one time or another most have been bullied or picked on in some way and the sadness, loneliness, depression confusion is something we can all relate to.
Fast forward many years when my five month old son needed a helmet because the back of his head was flat from a tough delivery in which he almost died. I remember walking through the grocery store people pointing, laughing and even shouting cruel remarks about my son wearing a helmet. I remember tearing up not out of embarrassment but out of sadness that people, grown adults could be so insensitive and mean to a child. I cannot explain it but inside I had a very unsettling feeling that this would not be the only time my son would be bullied or that it would bring me to tears.
Having a child with special needs especially in this day and age paints a very big bulls-eye on your back and makes both you and your child a target for bullying. I have had parents make fun of my son flapping his arms, I have had teachers tell me my son is a lazy, class clown who can not focus and most surely will never read, Clinton has come home from school in tears because he was wasn’t included at recess because he didn’t understand the rules, I have been told I need to “toughen” my son up – give him more sports less arts, I have been made fun of by parents/teachers alike because of my car, clothes, financial status, hair cut and even being “that parent” in a meeting. Over the years I have learned how to handle such comments but as a parent seeing your child cry because they were bullied, well that takes a little more patience and practice.
Below are some very supportive resources I would like to share with you.
1.)https://www.stopbullying.gov/ provides information from various government agencies on what bullying is, what cyberbullying is, who is at risk, and how you can prevent and respond to bullying.
2.)http://www.thebullyproject.com/ The Bully Project is the social action campaign inspired by the award winning film BULLY. They have sparked a national movement to stop bullying that is transforming kids lives and changing a culture of bullying into one of action and empathy.
3.) https://www.stompoutbullying.org/ The leading anti bullying nonprofit, STOMP Out Bullying is dedicated to changing student culture, reducing & preventing bullying, cyberbullying & other digital abuse.
4.) https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/ Bullying. No Way! provides information and ideas for students, parents and teachers. If you want to talk to someone in person or online click here to get contact details for helplines.
5.) Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson – In this award-winning picture book, Chloe and her friends refuse to play with the new girl, Maya. It’s not until Maya stops showing up for school that Chloe realizes the impact of her behavior and the missed opportunity for friendship. It delivers a powerful message about kindness and the ripple effect of our actions. Ages 7+
6.) Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper – Melody is brilliant, but nobody knows it. All they see is a girl stuck in a wheelchair who can’t speak, write, or move due to her cerebral palsy. When Melody gets integrated into a traditional classroom, people finally see how smart she is, but she also becomes the target of teasing and bullying from several kids and the teacher, too. Ages 10+
7.) Something Else by Kathryn Cave – This book is perfect for reassuring any child that being different can be a positive thing. Something Else is a lonely creature, excluded from everything because he is different. Until one day he meets someone even stranger than him. He rejects this new creature for being so peculiar, but then realizes that this is exactly what he has experienced.
8.) The Juice Box Bully Empowering Kids to Stand Up for Others by Bob Sorson & Maria Dismondy. When it comes to anti-bullying books, The Juice Box Bully is a must read for children, as it is simple to read with a powerful message. Being a witness to bullying and doing nothing is just as bad as bullying someone yourself. In this clever story the kids at Pete’s new school take action when they see Pete behaving badly. Pete’s classmates tell him about ‘The Promise’ to stop bullying. But will Pete make ‘The Promise’ or keep on being a bully?
9.)https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.
10.) Keep the lines of communication open. Everyday our lives are getting busier and busier and at times I feel the root of Bullying is that we have stopped connecting as people. Talk to your children and make sure you have someone to talk to you.