Tag Archive | bullying

Thoughts on Newtown, Connecticut tonight…

I get personal on this page—up to a point–but not too terribly personal. It’s how I am built.  I hold a lot inside until something totally rocks my world. Today’s tragedy in Connecticut totally rocked my world. I am an extremely sensitive person who puts on a good, tough, front. Today, I have not stopped crying. I also do a very good job of pretending not to be too awfully political. I am the mother of seven glorious children, one who is only 8 years old. They are all alive and safe at this moment. Thank you God.  Seriously.  Thank you so much!  They have lock down drills at my son’s school, even in this tiny little town in Maine.  What in the world?

Courtesy of Vee Warren and Quiet Retreat.

Courtesy of Vee Warren and Quiet Retreat.

My heart is broken for the families of all of those tiny children….those lost, and those who will live with the memory of terror for a lifetime, and for all of the families involved. I have so many friends who are teachers….so many. Those teachers in Connecticut were heroes today.  One lost her life shielding her class.  She was 27 years old.   I know that all of my teacher friends are heroes every day.  Schools are a battleground these days.  Are we all thanking our teachers each and every day?
My oldest daughter is a school guidance counselor in Maryland.  The school guidance counselors in Connecticut have a horrible task ahead of them that is part of the job. I think about my daughter and wonder just how crushing to her psyche being on a crisis team for something like this would be. I know her, tender spirit that she is.  She would be torn apart, yet on the other hand, she would probably surprise the hell out of me with her strength.  My kids all amaze me every day.  No, she would pay a high price for such strength.  I know that with all of my heart.
At the same time, I was the mother getting the crisis emails when a shooting took place at one of my son’s colleges. I have been the mother on the other end of the phone listening to her terrified child tell her that he and his friends were fleeing until it was safe. I have been the mother—I am the mother—of a child who lost a friend to a shooter, and who graduated college three weeks later with pall of it all hanging over the ceremony.
While we all take time to grieve, we also need to ask what we need to do as parents and human beings. Are we finding ways to support parents who are clearly lost in the job that they are doing, or are too young to do the job without the help of a committed mentor?  Two days ago, a child in my little boy’s class threatened to have his father come over to our house, break in, and gun us down. This is an ongoing issue—this little boy and his rampant bullying. The school does all that they can.  Without help on the home front, what more can they do?
What are we doing as a society to stop adult bullies, or those using the internet to stalk and harass others, or to help those in domestic violence situations, or those people with mental health issues? The answer does not lie with the government….not all of it.
The answer lies within us. The answer is love. The answer is always love and reaching out and paying attention and offering help even to those who offend us–within reason.   The answer is not turning a blind eye, judging, blaming, or walking away. If my thoughts offend anyone, well, they are my thoughts on this sad night.  Reach out.  Be safe and trust your gut, but reach out in love.

They say that one person cannot make a difference…

I have never believed that–that one person cannot make a difference–and I am glad that people like Albert Einstein, and Mother Teresa, and Steve Jobs didn’t believe it either, for they were extraordinary people who truly changed the world.   They had ideas and imagination and vision and courage and they took those gifts and used them to the highest extent that they possibly could.  I wonder what would happen in the world if we all did that?

A few weeks back I had an idea.  I have a lot of ideas, but unfortunately, I do not act on most of them.  In the past few months I have had to look at cyberbullying and harassment in the face from a very personal view.  I didn’t much like it, but I learned a lot about myself from the experience.  It has been an experience that has opened my eyes, and with my eyes open I began noticing things that I probably would have missed before.

I have an inspirational page on Facebook.  I was coerced into starting it by my friend, El Phoenix Farris, who writes Running From Hell with El.  She also has an inspirational page on Facebook by the same name.  One day I noticed that she has put up a poster about cyberbullying, and I had just heard that my brother-in-law was being cyberbullied by an adult and I had also come to the realization that my daughter had been viciously cyberbullied by adults late last summer.  When I saw El’s poster, I got an idea. Normally when I get an idea such as the one I got that day, which I feel is “inspired,” I think to myself, “Well, that will never work.”

However, this time was different.  I dismissed that “it won’t work” notion and I messaged El with my idea.  I said, “El, what do you think if we page owners all got together and had an anti-cyberbullying day?  A show of force of sorts.  I am new at this page thing and I don’t know a lot of page owners, but you do.”  I sent the message and waited for her response telling me why it wouldn’t work.  Instead, she was thrilled with the idea, but was about to take a mini vacation, so we agreed to discuss it upon her return.

The following week I saw another anit-bullying poster, this time put up by The Bridge Post.  Them I do know and have written for, so I went to Charlene and Tammy with an idea for an article on adults and cyberbullying.  They were excited by the idea and I began writing.  I also went back to El and told her about the article.  The next day we spoke by phone, and she’d brought in a friend of hers who runs an anti-bullying page on Facebook, Bullying is for Losers.  She also invited me into a group of inspirational page owners on Facebook and after I had been introduced, and had said my hello’s, and after waiting a respectable amount of time for them to get to know me a bit, (roughly an hour or two) with El’s nudge, I launched my anti-cyberbullying campaign idea into the group and was met with excitement and a ton of enthusiasm.

I had stopped being “just one person” the second I shared my idea with El.  When the idea was released into the group it took on a life of its own and a number of very talented, very dedicated, and extremely loving individuals made magic.  After having worked tirelessly all weekend long creating posters and content for their own pages, and for all of us to share, this group of magnificent page owners, myself among them now, held an all day anti-cyberbullying day yesterday that spread like wildfire on Facebook.  At the same time, The Bridge Post released my article, and the day was a day of overwhelming emotion as we all worked together to spread a very important message, each from our own unique point of view.  I simply cannot find words to adequately describe the impact that the day has on each one of us as page owners, and on those people who we are blessed enough to have visit our pages.

Some posters were shared many hundreds of times over, each a unique creation, and they are still being shared and commented on today.  Here is just a tiny sampling of some of the many, many posters that were created and released and shared all over Facebook yesterday:

Know My Worth

Running From Hell With El

Image: Photos & Designs by Piera
Words One Hot Mess(age)  Designed by Piera Paci.

Nothing but Respect

Read, Love and Learn

 

Art the Speaks by Alison Pearce

And my little contribution, poster-wise.  I am lucky I have a forehead left after all the banging! 😉

One Hot Mess(age)

I wish I could share all of the posters.  There were so many and a gallery is being planned.  The creativity, talent, and dedication by all of these people, each “just one person,” has me in complete awe.  Their spirit of love, kindness, collaboration, and light had me in tears more than once yesterday, and the outpouring of support from people on Facebook still has me reeling.  Last I heard, a radio station local to The Bridge Post was having an anti-bullying day today and they were in contact.  Who knows how far this can go!

Of course, there is no way to measure the effect of yesterday on the people who saw what we all worked to do, but I do know people talked, and shared, and were touched, and they thought, not just about not bullying themselves, but what needs to be done when we see bullying happening in any form, anywhere.  Seeds have been planted and who knows what will grow.

Each one of you is “just one person” chock full of ideas, passion, and light.  How many times do you have an idea and stop yourself from going forward because you think that it won’t work, or no one will listen, or that it won’t make a difference?  My idea ceased to be mine once I shared it and I give all of the glory for all of it to God, but had I never shared that simple idea what would have happened?  Nothing.  And yet because I chose to share it, to give it away, it became something astonishing because of the vision and hard work by so many people, all of them “just one person.”  We all have the spark within us that is capable of igniting a fire of goodness and love.   Take that idea you have—the spark that you have–and go start your own fire!  It is right there waiting within you!

Many thanks to Running From Hell With El, Bullying is for Losers, The Bridge Post, Living Happy, Happiness in Your Life, Always Leave ‘Em Laughing, Our Mind’s Meadow, Bedeempled Brain, Art The Speaks by Alison Pearce. A Victim No More, You ARE Enough, Know My Worth, Photos & Designs by Piera, What Makes My Heart Sing, Nothing But Respect, A Cowboy’s Hope for a Cure,Poopsie, What Makes My Heart Sing, Rebel Thriver, and Read, Love and Learn.  If I forgot anyone, let me know and you will be added!!

Cyberbullying and Adults

Bullying and cyberbullying are hot topics both in the media and in schools across the country.  Many states are enacting stiff laws that address bullying and harassment, and those laws usually include cyberbullying.  In some states, cyberbullying can result in jail or prison time, and may be a felony.  But, the reality of cyberbullying is that it is not confined to teenagers.  Adults are victims of cyberbullying, and more and more adults are becoming cyberbullies.  What is the fastest growing population among those who cyberbully?  It is adult women.

So, what is cyberbullying?  It is bullying and harassment but instead of being done in a real life setting, it is done over the computer, in chat rooms, social networking sites, or via text message, or emails.  In short, it is bullying done using  a piece of electronic equipment.  Now, in real life, we can walk away from a bully, disconnect ourselves from that person, at least in the best case scenarios.  But because the internet is everywhere, providing endless forums for the bully to use to perpetrate their crime, cyberbullying can be far harder to stop, and can exact an even higher emotional toll on the person being cyberbullied.  We are well aware that cyberbullying has lead to suicides among teens, and while most adults have more resources and life experience to withstand the cyberbully, there is still a toll for the adult being bullied, be it emotional, physical, or spiritual, or the attempted ruination of a reputation.

Insults, name calling, attacks on race, religious beliefs, physical or emotional disabilities, gender, sexual orientation, or ANY OTHER PERSONAL CHARACTERISTIC are all considered bullying, and when done via the internet, or cell phone, comprise cyberbullying.  Generally, there is also some form of cyberstalking involved in the cyberbullying, as well.

What can you do if you are being cyberbullied?  First off, do not respond in kind–do not cyberbully back.  That rather goes without saying, but in the heat of the moment, when feelings are hurt, and emotions are raw, it is easier said than done.  Gather evidence, including saving text messages, taking screen shots of cyberbullying comments and posts, and keep all bullying emails.  Contact the site on which you are being harassed and bullied.  Most have very strong anti-harassment policies.  Some are quicker than others to respond.  Tell someone you trust, and if you have an attorney, forward all of the evidence to him.  Contact law enforcement if you are threatened.  If the bully does not stop, you can seek a harassment order.  Check out your local state laws to see if cyberbullying is addressed, and what legal measures can put a stop to it.

Why do adult people cyberbully?  Usually, the bullying comes from anger, jealousy, and a need for revenge.  Many adult bullies do it for entertainment purposes.  They enjoy bullying.  It makes them feel better about themselves somehow.  Often, these people have too much time on their hands, and not a real, meaningful, life to speak of, so instead or reading a good book, or knitting, or just loving on the people in their lives, they use their free time, and often work time, to engage in cyberbullying.  These are truly sad people who have yet to reach an emotional stage of development that dictates a life of kindness, integrity, and compassion.  They are unhappy people.

Yes, I am being cyberbullied right now, and while I’d love to think that I am six feet tall and bullet proof, it hurts.  That the person who is doing the cyberbullying does not know me at all baffles me.  It would seem that she is so weak in her own personal character that she is easily swayed by information provided to her by people who are not trustworthy sources of information about me, or are they even close to honest and objective.  And yet, she allows herself to be their puppet, or she is just unhappy enough to need no encouragement.  I don’t know.  I don’t care.  In any world, and for whatever reason, it’s wrong.

That this same woman claims that she was bullied as a teen, writes articles and blog posts about the experience, and is using a site to raise money to have anti-bullying pamphlets printed, so that she can go into the schools to talk to children about bullying is the ultimate irony.  This woman has wished me dead, and openly expressed her desire to be able to hasten my death.  I think that somehow goes far and beyond bullying.  What is she modeling to her own children with her bad behavior?

I have seen adults bully other adults. Prison was a great place for that.  When I saw it happening, even if I shared a dislike for the person being bullied, I always confronted the bully, if it was safe to do, and it usually was.  There is no excuse for bullying or cyberbullying.  What you have to say about others speaks far more to your own character than to the person that you are insulting, degrading, and trying to tear down.

I don’t play with bullies, or cyberbullies, but I do take appropriate actions, and those actions may soon have to reach an even higher level if I want this to stop, and I do want it to stop.   If you are being cyberbullied, do not sit back in silence.  Tell some.  Speak out.  Get help.  Below are some links to organizations with information on cyberbullying.

Each day, I just keep praying for this woman, and the family endorsing her cyberbullying.  I pray that someday they will open themselves to the concepts of love, kindness, forgiveness, honesty, integrity, and compassion.  That’s a tall order to fill, but with God, anything is possible!  In the meantime, I will continue to live my own life fully using those concepts.