I’ve had an experience with bullies. It changed me. Thankfully, it didn’t destroy me. It actually turned me into a stronger person. I was a lucky one.
Bullies affect far too many children still, and as a community, we need to change this.
When I wrote The Muse, a lesbian romance novel that deals with the subject of bullying and how it affects us throughout our lifetime, I did so with the goal of bringing awareness to the issues that affect so many and to hopefully save people from having to deal with its hurtful consequences.
The best chance we have as a community to help stop bullies is by standing up to them as leaders, as change agents, as role models.
I was bullied as a young girl, bullied right into a two year silence, literally. One girl controlled my power to speak by slapping me repeatedly every time I spoke. That bully of a girl never let me sit apart from her. Her glare, her firm slap if I moved the wrong way had to be obvious to my teacher who sat before me, right? I never felt so alone as I did in that year. Weakened by a bully, I sat victim for two long years too afraid to speak on my own behalf.
Then a hero came to my rescue. Although he didn’t attend my school, he befriended me in my neighborhood and taught me how to stand up for myself through example. No bullies messed with me when I couldn’t speak. They respected me because he respected me. He was a change agent at the age of seven. To this day, I doubt he knows the positive level of impact he had on my life.
He stood up against bullies for me.
That was the key. He communicated to me and to others that I was someone worthy.
As a community, how do we nurture such individuals to rise to the occasion and become these much needed change agents? How do we convince kids to be leaders against bullies? I don’t think we can expect to just sit idle and hope some of them take up flight and stand up for those weakened and battered down by bullies. I think it starts with communicating clearly and precisely with the youth that we need them to willingly stand up for those being pushed down. Their simple presence most often is all that is needed.
Students can help stop bullies if we, as a community, teach them 3 important things:
- Encourage them to become agents of change by becoming mentors, advocates and leaders for their peers.
- Encourage high school students to lead by example. High school students have a credibility that rings more true and strong to younger students.
- Encourage them to become a safe place, to become a friend, to become that person who really cares about the feelings of another human being.
Wishing you all the best,
Suzie Carr, Novelist
P.S. I want to turn it over to you. This is such a critical topic and I’d love to hear your take on it. Please feel free to share an experience you or someone you care about has had with bullies.