Stop the Bullying…because Everyone Matters.

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I’ve wanted to write about how to deal with bullying (and put out the call to stop the bullying) for quite some time but wasn’t sure what to say, or how to say it. But I think it’s time to talk about kids who have endured bullying and/or violence at the hands of other kids.

My daughter

Last year, my daughter was bullied by a girl she went to school with, who was clearly trying to instigate a fight. When my daughter did not take the bait, as they say, the girl physically attacked her while her sister videotaped the entire incident and their mother watched (and seemed to have no issue with their behavior let alone stop the bullying at the hands of her daughters). The video of the incident was then uploaded to Youtube, which we presume was the motivation behind the situation.

My daughter’s adult sister (my stepdaughter) addressed this with the mother (who, dare I say, behaved inappropriately, at best) after the fact, and I contacted Youtube to have the video removed as it violated their Terms of Service. (Yes, folks, sometimes the system works the way you hope it will!) There have been no further incidents involving this girl or any other individual, for which I am so grateful. It is pretty rare that “bullying” incidents are isolated, such as this one was. So we were lucky in being successful in our effort to stop the bullying, in how it affected my daughter, at least.

Bailey O’Neill

"Bailey O'Neill Delaware County Bullied Boy In Coma Stop The Bullying"

delcotimes.com

Eleven-year-old Bailey O’Neill, who lives in the same county as me, was the victim in a schoolyard altercation. Bailey’s family claims that two bullies attacked the sixth grader, breaking his nose. According to reports, a group of students stood around the boys, forming a circle, watching the violence before it was broken up by school staff members. Bailey remained in school the rest of the day, with a broken nose, and his parents were not notified of the incident. His mother discovered his condition when he arrived home from school and promptly got him medical attention. That was January 10, 2013.

Over the next week, he started getting headaches. His mother took him to the hospital again, when it was discovered he had a concussion. Over the next week, he got worse — he was now fatigued and vomiting — and he was admitted to a local children’s hospital. That night he started having seizures, which doctors could not control. They then put Bailey in a medically-induced coma and transferred him to another hospital, where he remains in that condition. One student was suspended for two days in relation to the incident, which remains under official investigation.

Update: On March 2, 2013, Bailey O’Neill turned 12. The following day, his family removed him from life support. He passed away shortly after. May his family find some sense of peace and calm in the coming months. 

Jenelle

Let me tell you about Jenelle. Or, even better, let Jenelle tell you about Jenelle, and her mission to stop the bullying:

Jenelle is the daughter of a blogger who has written about how her daughter was bullied and how school officials did little to help resolve the situation. I recently had the opportunity to interview Jenelle about her experience as well as her project to help stop the bullying.

Q: When did the bullying start, and can you think of anything that might have “triggered” the bullying?

A: It started at the beginning of 5th grade (2012). It started because I have short hair.

"Stop The Bullying Jenelle"

Q: What kind of bullying have you experienced?

A: They called me names — dyke, whore, slut — and some boys beat me up. When I told the teachers, they ignored it. When I fought back, I got written up.

Q: Did any adults (parents, teachers, etc.) see this going on? If so, did they make an effort to stop the bullying?

A: Yes, they saw it and I told them lots of times but they didn’t care.

Q: Did you feel comfortable telling anyone at the school about what was going on?

A: I told my teacher, the counselor, the principal…anyone who would listen, but they didn’t seem to notice/care. They didn’t do anything to help me.

Q: How did being bullied make you feel — about school, about your classmates, about anything?

A: It made me not want to go to school. I cried every day when my mom made me go.

Q: When kids bullied you, did you do or say anything?

A: At first I tried to ignore it. After a while I told people it hurt my feelings, but they didn’t care.

Q: Did a large group of kids participate in the bullying? Did you notice if these kids were part of any “clique” — as in, are they the “popular” kids or the “mean” kids or are they kids that tend to get bullied themselves, etc.?

A: I was one of the only white kids at the school, and they were all black. They said I didn’t belong at their school because I was white.

Q: What was the worst part about being bullied?

A: Nobody would listen to me when I asked for help. Not even the teacher or principal.

Q: Have you ever seen other kids getting bullied? If so, did you say/do anything to stop the bullying at the time?

A: There were only a few white kids in the class, and we all got bullied. I didn’t say anything anymore because the one time I did, the boys tried to beat me up.

Q: Do you think we can stop bullying? How?

A: I think that we can stop bullying, but I don’t know how. I would think that you would just kick the mean kids out of school, but it doesn’t work that way. They made me switch schools, so the mean kids are still bullying. They need to put the mean kids in one class and the nice kids in another class so they can get a good education without getting distracted by bullying. If a bully is sitting by you and being mean like kicking you during a test you are going to be distracted and not do as well.

Q: Knowing what you know about bullying and how it makes you feel, what would you say to another kid who is suffering through the same thing?

A: Hang out with me, I’ve survived bullying and I know how it feels. Stay away from the bullies, tell the teachers. If they don’t listen, tell another teacher, and another, until somebody listens. Get your parents involved and let them know how serious of a problem it is.

"Stop The Bullying Slap Dash Things Etsy Earrings"

Q: What do you hope to achieve through your project?

A: I hope bullying will stop. I am donating $1 from the sale of each piece of jewelry to EVERYONE MATTERS. They help with anti-bullying campaigns and really believe that EVERYONE is important.

"Stop The Bullying Campaign Slap Dash Things Etsy Shop"

I also had a chance to ask Jenelle’s mom, Sadie, a few questions about the situation surrounding her daughter and her effort to stop the bullying.

Q: When did your daughter tell you about what she was experiencing at school? How long had it been going on before she told you?

A: She told me almost right away. At first, she just tried telling the teacher. We have a ‘rule’ at home that we try to keep things as positive as possible, so she felt like she would be complaining if she told me.. but it really hurt her, so she told me in private. I explained to her that “kids will be kids” and if she ignored them, they’d leave her alone. That was just at first. When the names got worse, I started going up to the school, talking to the principal, etc. 

Q: How did you react, to your daughter, when she told you? What did you tell her?

A: I really thought that it would just blow over, so I told her to ignore it.

Q: Before you acted/reacted to this situation, what did you go through, emotionally? How did it make you feel?

A: It really made me angry, to be honest.

Q: Have you ever experienced bullying at any point in your life? Would you care to discuss what happened and how you dealt with it?

A: When I was a kid, it was a little different. I remember in middle school I was the new kid. A girl came up to me and punched me, for “sitting in her seat.” I hit her back, and that was the end of it. No other kids were involved, no teachers involved, we just solved it right then and there. Kids called me “jolly green giant” for being so tall, and “sticks” for being so skinny, but that was just teasing. It wasn’t hurtful.

Q: So, when the dust settled, what did you do to address this situation at your daughter’s school? (Who did you talk to, did they respond, did they stop the bullying, etc.?)

A: At first, I tried to talk to the teacher. She said she’d address it but nothing changed. Then, I started calling the principal. She avoided my phone calls. I had to actually physically go to the school and sometimes wait for an hour to talk to the principal about the issues. She said she’d deal with it, but most of the time she didn’t. At that point, Nell was being sexually harassed and called racial names as well, but the principal didn’t take it seriously. Then, I took it to my blog. After I blogged about it, the school was really ticked off at me and really stopped helping. They ignored it when the kids got physical with Jenelle, and were very rude to me when I volunteered in the classroom. I had to go all the way to the state to get something done, and their “solution” was uprooting my children and moving them to a new school.

A big thank you to Jenelle and Sadie for sharing their story — and here’s to hoping we can help stop the bullying for all the kids at her school, and every school! 

Where to go if you want/need to stop the bullying — for yourself, your child, or someone you care about:

This is not an exhaustive list, but it’s a good place to start on your journey to help stop the bullying:

  • Bully Beware
  • Bullying Project 
  • A Call to Stop Bullying — You can find some great resources here!
  • Everyone Matters — An organization whose campaign is “[t]he personal journey to be a better person, less judgmental, to learn to respect in some fundamental way, everyone’s exact right to their own personhood. To learn humility, in approaching others.”
  • PACER’S National Bullying Center — A non-profit anti-bullying organization that founded National Bullying Prevention Month (October).
  • Stomp Out Bullying — a program of Love Our Children USA, an organization that fights all forms of violence against children in the United States.
  • Stop Bullying — a federal website managed by the Department of Health & Human Services
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Comments

  1. Jennifer Johansen says

    I do NOT understand why the principal and the teachers refused to do anything about the matter. Were they afraid of the bullying children, too? Unacceptable! These kinds of things make me so angry.

  2. says

    As much as the stories of bullying break my heart, I’m happy that people are finally listening and resources are being made available to help stop bullying. There are a lot of people who want to stop bullying, now we just need to channel all that energy.

  3. Mitzi Fisher says

    I really can’t stand to see a child bullyed. I feel that we as parents need to know what’s going on with our chilren.

  4. Mitzi Fisher says

    I really hate a bully. The world is a bad and hard place to live now and kids don’t need to have to deal with bullying :(

  5. grace says

    Thanks for sharing, I have been teaching my son how to handle a bully .. and why it’s not a good thing to ever become one.

  6. Candice Hull says

    Thank you for sharing these stories. My oldest son is about to start school and this is one of the things that really worries me. It has to stop

  7. Darling Kle says

    This is actually a common occurrence. My son was bullied in school this year and when I would report it from him telling me about it the principal started to call my son in and give him punishment by putting him into in school suspension or closed lunches and flat out told my son he was tired of hearing me complain about the bullying. It is the same children who bullied him two years ago when I decided to pull him out of the public school here and home school him. Now the principal has started to blame my son for bullying other kids and claiming he is bullied as much as he is a bully. How wrong can things be in this world.

  8. Rachel Ellis says

    Thank you for sharing these stories and for the information! My 9 year old son has been a victim of bullying and we seem to constantly be fighting with the school to do something about it. I am so tired of bullying!

  9. Laurie Emerson says

    My 8 year old son is Autistic and in the main steam school system this year. I have been to the school more times than I can count as he is being bullied. It is so frustrating as no one seems to care and only sees me as a pest.

  10. Leah Lucas says

    I really get emotional when I hear story after story of bullying in schools. I think that parents really need to talk to their children and make them understand it is best when they talk about it, not keep it inside and allow it to continue.

  11. says

    There is never an excuse to bully and I have seen adults use the techniques to intimidate as well. Hopefully with enough attention being brought to the issue we can get it stopped.

  12. says

    That reaction is not Okay! I wish schools took it more seriously. They are just waiting for things to happen. Makes me so mad!

  13. says

    It is so horrible to see bulling in schools. I wish that people would understand what a serious issue it is. It is so nice this girl is doing something to help.

  14. says

    What a fantastic and important article. I love that Jenelle is trying to do something about it by raising money. I am going to promote her Etsy shop for sure. What an amazing girl. I was bullied in Junio High. One time, I was lucky enough that the police came to help me. The other “mean girls” made me suffer for months, but my mother really did not know what to do. Luckily, I came out of it stronger in the end. No child deserves to be bullied just for being who they are. Thanks for sharing this important topic.

  15. says

    As usually, your articles are the best! So comprehensive and multi-dimensional. I just find myself nodding in affirmation to your anti-bullying statements

  16. says

    I wonder why the school did not call the parents of the boy with the broken nose. Too many times they are more worried about whether they are going to get sued then about the kids safety it seems to me. Horrible.

    Dawn

  17. says

    Childhood Bullying Can Leave Lifelong Scars! Bullying could have as much of a formative impact on a person’s mental health as other traumatic experiences such as child abuse and maltreatment. As well Children who are bullied often carry the scars of their experience into adulthood and suffer from anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. If we could set up a culture in schools where this isn’t allowed to happen, then, maybe, there are a lot of these problems we can avoid. That’s all the more reason why early intervention is important, to try to change the course of the difficulties. Ignoring the problem is not the way to go. Parents who become aware that their child is either a bully or a victim of bullying should seek mental health care, because many of these young people will have disorders that would benefit from treatment. We all need to keep the awareness of BULLYING in our everyday conversation! We need to stop tragedies like this from happening!

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