Thursday, October 27, 2011
Harvey Firestone once said, “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself."
As a parent, there is little you wouldn’t do to protect your child. But what do you do when everywhere you turn you are not being heard?
She was so excited to start kindergarten last year. She packed her crayons, scissors and glue into her backpack and ran to the car hurrying her mom along. Kindergarten would be so much fun! But it didn’t turn out that way for her. She was repeatedly bullied by children in her class. She was slapped and spit on, oinked at in the lunchroom, blocked from using the bathroom and held down on the playground as two boys touched her on the outside of her clothes. She yelled for help and was punished. She was scared to tell her parents, and was making herself sick to avoid school. She stopped eating. Her mom took her to the doctor and then to a therapist. She tells the therapist what’s been happening and the therapist brings in her parents to tell them. Her mom goes to the principal who ignores her. They get a medical transfer from the therapist and pediatrician and the school admin refuses to honor it. She has been bullied into silence.
(Note: During this story, which is true, I had a picture of my Doodle up there, which even though I knew it wasn't a story about her, when I looked over and saw her picture on her first day of Kindergarten I got reallllly emotional.)
This was the founding advocacy case of ABC. I’ll let you know how this family fared, but first I will give you a bit of information on what ABC is and what we do.
ABC was founded in March 2011 at El Bracero in Michigan City. ABC stands for Anti-Bullying Coalition and using that same Acronym our tagline is: Advocacy, Building Awareness + Confidence.
ABC was formed as a Facebook page to advocate for local parents and raise awareness of bullying. In six short months, our Facebook page has grown to over 6000 people from all over the world. We have been blessed to connect and network with many like-minded activist pages.
We recently rolled out our official website at http://www.antibullyingcoalition.net.
When I was stressed about what aspect I would speak about today I reached out to the community and received an overwhelming response. Of course that only made it worse for me trying to narrow it down, but it was amazing to see all of the responses and great ideas.
Our services are:
♥ Strong Family Advocacy
♥ Coordinate "Positive Playdates," "Teen Time" and "Grown-Up Get Togethers"
♥ Building Awareness + Confidence
♥ Promotion of well executed, universal anti-bullying action plan
♥ The "What to do?" Resource
Bullying is a major issue in today’s society. Not just here, but worldwide. Here are some staggering national statistics:
* 1 in 7 Students in Grades K-12 is either a bully or a victim of bullying.
* 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
* 90% of 4th through 8th graders report being victims of bullying
* Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75% of school-shooting incidents.
(Make Beats Not Beat Downs, 2009)
Bullycide is a newer definition for suicide induced by bullying.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
• Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.
• Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.
(American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 2011)
This poster image was furnished to us by Putting a Face on Suicide who has a separate album of Putting a Face on Bullycide. There are many more who have lost their lives due to bullycides and the deaths of so many children due to bullying is what first inspired me to become an activist.
I have become friends with many parents who have lost their children to bullycides. Their strength, courage and determination to see a change is incredibly inspiring to me, as they have lived through my greatest fear, of losing a child to bullycide.
Two pages I would highly recommend that reflect what a worldwide problem bullying is are:
Jeremiah’s Hope for Kindness
Friends of Dom Crouch Against Bullying
The 5 year anniversary of Jeremiah’s death was just October 22. In honor of Jeremiah, his memory and his mother, Ann, we at ABC changed our logo to this in support. We have yet to change our profile picture:
I consider myself activist. I believe we can make a difference. ABC’s tagline is <3 Together We Can <3 because we firmly believe that it must be a together effort. One person may not be able to change the world, but together we can turn the tide of this epidemic.
To follow up on the story I shared with you earlier, after all the doors were shut in the mom’s face, we chose to go to the media and were featured on the front page of the Michigan City News Dispatch two days before we met with the principal and guidance counselor. It made an impact, her medical transfer was honored and she was able to withdraw from that school.
Her mom said to us, “You gave me my backbone back.” This still gives me chills.
We want to see a change in society to one of acceptance, kindness, compassion and empathy but until then, we will continue to advocate for families in need and have their voices be heard.
As my fellow ABC partner Aunt T says, “Prejudice is learned. Teach Acceptance.”
^That was my last line of my informative speech, but I've added this note for the blog:
In addition to the pages I shared in the speech, I’d like to take a moment to recognize the other phenomenal pages and work done by parents who have lost a child due to bullycide. I only had 5 – 7 minutes, would have preferred to share more as well as play the Words Do Hurt video, but there was not enough time.
Please check out the following pages:
Putting a Face on Suicide ~ https://www.facebook.com/puttingafaceonsuicide
B.R.A.V.E. ~ http://www.facebook.com/BRAVESociety
Kindness Matters ~ https://www.facebook.com/Kindness.Matters222
Smiles for Danielle ~ https://www.facebook.com/groups/173225196067230
Also please check out the Words Do Hurt video and Facebook page. Alye’s message is so very powerful, with not a single word spoken.
Words Do Hurt YouTube:
Words Do Hurt Facebook:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. (2011). Facts & Figures. Retrieved October 25, 2011, from American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=050FEA9F-B064-4092-B1135C3A70DE1FDA
Anti-Bullying Coalition, Inc. (2011, October). Anti-Bullying Coalition. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from Anti-Bullying Coalition: http://www.antibullyingcoalition.net
Crouch, R. (n.d.). Friends of Dom Crouch Against Bullying. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/FriendsofDomCrouchAgainstbullying
Firestone, H. (n.d.). Goodreads Harvey Firestone Quotable Quotes. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/7128
Gettis, A. (n.d.). Jeremiah's Hope for Kindness. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JeremiahsHopeforKindness
Make Beats Not Beat Downs. (2009). Bullying Facts & Statistics. Retrieved October 24, 2011, from MBNBD Make a Sound for a Voice Unheard: http://www.makebeatsnotbeatdowns.org/facts_new.html
Suicide, P. a. Putting a Face on Bullycide. Putting a Face on Suicide.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
When my daughter was 5 yrs old she was relentlessly pursued by a child in her class to the point she did not want to go to school anymore...
I talked to the teacher who said (and I quote), "I know!! Isn't it cute? He LOVES her."
After I picked my jaw off the floor, I stated that this was NOT in any shape or form "cute" and it HAD to STOP!
I was getting nowhere, so I took my daughter to the principal's office and said, “I give her permission to beat the snot out of ANYONE who touches her,” (FYI - she was the most petite little 5 yr old and would NEVER lay a hand on anyone...LOL) “and if you put her in detention I will not only do the detention with her but will also notify EVERY SINGLE RADIO STATION AND THE NEWSPAPER, and inform them this nice little neighborhood school allows and condones bullying and yes...sexual harassment....”
Guess what!! I got an apology….. But wait? Why did I get the apology when it was my child that was being bullied? So then they apologized to HER and IT NEVER HAPPENED AGAIN!!
My daughter is now 26. She is the most loving, beautiful, active young woman with tons of friends and a fabulous job, but has "that certain something" which attracts bullies. She has a much better understanding of it though and deals with it like a PRO. She is absolutely non-aggressive and now people understand that her gentle and kind nature is never to be confused with weakness!
Parents can be an enormous help to their children by solidly supporting them without being overbearing and BELIEVE your child when she/he complains about kids who aren't "so nice.”
Thank you for allowing me to share my daughter’s story!