It’s October! Aside from the month of changing leaves, spooky Holidays and falling temperatures, October is also…
National Bullying Prevention Month!
In the last several weeks, several bullying-related stories have been making waves in national headlines.
There was the high school student whose Homecoming nomination turned out to be a malicious prank, the TV news anchor whose weight became a national story, the blogger whose fear of a vicious blog ‘troll’ drove him off the Internet, the list goes on…
But each of these stories also highlights a growing trend on our national response to bullies. Rather than join in on the criticism, we have come together to say that this behavior will not stand.
The community rallied around that Homecoming Queen, cheering the high school girl on as she took the Homecoming stage looking gorgeous and confident in her red dress. We wrote hundreds of letters to that TV anchor, reminding her that she is so much more than her weight. We applauded the blogger for not only confronting the teen who made him fear for his life, but for forgiving him.
And it wasn’t just us who took a stand. It was the victims themselves. Rather than let those bullies get away with their behavior, they spoke up. And then they spoke out. They sounded the alarm that this behavior was going on, then they stood up for themselves.
When Leo Trayner, a blogger in the UK, met the 17-year-old man who had threatened his wife and family, he had this to say to him:
Look at me. I’m a middle-aged man with a limp and a wheeze and a son and a wife that I love. I’m not just a little avatar of an eye. You’re better than this. You have a name of your own. Be proud of it.
And you know what? His story went viral. 913 people commented on his story, applauded him for his bravery and thanking him for speaking up.
When Whitney Kropp, the 16-year-old who was nominated for Homecoming Queen as a cruel joke, spoke of her abuse, she told other victims of bullying:
Stand up for what you believe in and go with your heart and go with your gut. That’s what I did, and look at me now. I’m just as happy as can be! I can just prove all these kids wrong … I’m not the joke everyone thinks I am.
And Jennifer Livingston, the news anchor attacked for her weight, had this to say–on air–to every single person who has ever been hurt by the words of others:
To all of the children out there who feel lost, who are struggling with your weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now: Do not let your self-worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience — that the cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.
These three brave individuals teach us so much about bullying. They show that:
- Bullying affects people of all ages and types
- Victims of bullying are not alone
- Victims of bullies have nothing to be ashamed of– it is the bullies who bare the blame
- Standing up and speaking out will help not just you, but all of us, overcome bullying
- Bullies do not define who we are. We do.
- Standing up to bullies is hard, but once you do, you’ll have your community behind you for support
Bullying is a national issue. It’s not a teen issue, a school issue, or an Internet issue.
It’s an everyone issue.
We’ve made progress, but we still have a long way to go. There are still people out there–of all ages, from all walks of life–that deal with bullies every day. We still have victims of bullying who suffer in silence.
So this National Bullying Prevention Month, may we rise to the challenge. May victims of bullying everywhere feel the courage and support to stand up and speak out. And may we stand up to support and heal them when they do.