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Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

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I was bullied.

I was subjected to various forms of bullying: from name calling to being ostracized by the “cool kids.” In middle school, I was also the target of a girl who was two years older and much taller than me. No matter how much lunch money I gave up or completed homework assignments I gave her, the bullying wouldn’t stop. She tripped me down the steps, hit me, dunked my head in a toilet and threatened worse if I told anyone. I believed her and started to lie to my closest friends, family and teachers to cover up the reasons for my bruises and depression. I started to avoid school, but fortunately the year was coming to an end at the height of the abuse. I convinced my parents to send me to another school for academic reasons. Through all of bullying I really couldn’t understand why this was happening to me.

Years later, my mom and I were discussing the Columbine shooting and how the shooters were described as outcasts that were bullied by the other students. It was then that I confessed that I had been bullied and by whom. It turns out that my mom was aware that my bully’s father was arrested for child abuse and that she now had a baby by him. After hearing this devastating news, I left my house and went to where I knew she still lived. My bully answered the door and all I could say was that I forgave her. Surprisingly, she then hugged me and started to cry. She explained that I was just the smallest and meekest target around and the bullying was an outlet for what she was dealing with herself.

There will always be a part of me that will wonder what could have been prevented had I told a teacher or my parents about the bullying. Would it have helped both of us?  Bullying can take many forms: physical, verbal, covert and now cyberbullying. Regardless of the type, bullying can leave long-lasting mental and physical scars, lead to low self-esteem, poor performance at school, depression, anxiety, substance use and even suicide.

October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. Please speak up. Talk to a parent, teacher, school  counsellor, your library’s teen specialist or another adult you trust.

Teens Against Bullying
An interactive site where teens can learn about preventing and responding to bullying—in cyberspace, via texting, and at school. Includes information on Facebook safety.

NetSmartz® Workshop
A program of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children® (NCMEC) that provides age-appropriate resources to help teach children how to be safer on and offline through education, engagement, and empowerment.

GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network)
A national education organization whose mission is centered on creating safe spaces in schools for K–12 students. They seek to “develop school climates where difference is valued for the positive contribution it makes in creating a more vibrant and diverse community.” The website and resources are focused on the acceptance of all people regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, or occupation.

STOP Cyberbullying 
An interactive website offering resources to help prevent cyberbullying, while encouraging everyone to “be part of the solution.”

lauren @ CLP – Woods Run

Jumped by Rita Williams-GarciaDear bully : seventy authors tell their stories  Bystander by James PrellerWe want you to know : kids talk about bullying  by Deborah EllisScrawl : a novel  by Mark ShulmanThe Misfits by James HoweLetters to a bullied girl : messages of healing and hope by Olivia GardnerBrutal by Michael B. Harmon  Everybody sees the ants by A. S. KingThe girls by Amy Goldman KossCracked by K. M. WaltonHow to beat cyberbullying by Judy Monroe PetersonHow to beat social alienation by Jason PorterfieldHow to beat verbal bullying by Liz Sonneborn

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