When One Little Boy Said NO to Bullying… a Message for 2019

say no to bullyingHave you noticed…it’s hard to go a week without hearing or reading a story about bullying. There’s the “traditional” bullying we all knew growing up – and perhaps dismiss a bit too easily because of that. The skinny kid being shoved in the hallway…the mean rumors spread about one kid by the “in-crowd”.

And then there’s the new “flavor” of torment –cyber-bullying. Where leaving school no longer brings relief but often just opens the door to a whole new world of abuse. By email, by phone, on social networks, the insults, the hurt just keeps coming.

We read about it…

We read the sad stories – after the fact – when bullying contributes to the death of a child:

  • Rebecca Ann Sedwick – the 7th grader from Florida – who jumped to her death from an abandoned cement silo after enduring a year of online and in-person bullying.
  • Jordan Lewis – a sophomore in high school – who committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest. In a note, he blamed his suicide on bullying… and more recently
  • Brandy Vela – the 18 year old Texas teenager – who put a gun to her chest and killed herself in front of her family after being relentlessly bullied.

A 2013 Huffington Post article announced that bullying is starting to become recognized as a public health issue. According to Dr. Jorge Srabstein, medical director of the Clinic for Health Problems Related to Bullying at the Children’s National Medical Center (CNMC), “Bullying is linked to a wide range of health issues, both physical and emotional symptoms.“ It’s four years later, and that same sentiment is echoed in a 2017 article published by CNN:Bullying is a ‘serious public health problem,’ experts say.”

How do we enter 2019 with this hanging over us? Can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

Email can be a help line

To answer that, I’m going to share with you a story…well actually it’s an email, but the email itself tells the story. It was written by an ELEVEN year old, to his school principal.

Email Subject: I have found out about a serious bully situation – Benjamin E.

Dear Mr. C.

I began writing this e-mail as soon as I got home, I was on my bus and I found an eighth grade boy, I forgot his name already, but he is in eighth grade and is black and rides bus 115. Anyways, he was crying so I talked to him. He looked so depressed and sad and nobody was paying him any heed. The first thing he said to me was “I’m a loser”. I tried to comfort him and all, but nothing worked I told him to tell his parents about his being bullied but he said that his dad was out of the state and he thought his mom might have moved, he has a grannie though. He says that he doesn’t know the bully’s name, but the bully is male, white, an eighth grader, and is not on bus 115. He say he has no friends, he also says his mom did this to him and that his parents are awful people. I tried to get him to make friends with someone else on the bus but he says they don’t follow him at school so they can’t be his friend…or something like that. I have notified the bus driver of bus 115 and he said “oh, yeah, he does that” so I e-mailed you. I am very worried about him since he said this is my life which made me think he really hated himself.

If you want, I would be happy to talk to you about this boy being bullied. if you need to get ahold of me, my classes are….xxxxx

Sincerely, Benjamin E., 6th grade

So, to answer the question I asked before… can we change this scary direction we’re heading in??

I have to believe if an eleven-year old could write this email, we have a chance.

Starting with one child… and parents who care enough to teach that bullying isn’t ok (and neither is just standing by and watching it happen) …and a school system that reinforces that message and teaches kids what to do if they see someone being bulled…

I think we can

…it only takes one Benjamin to jump in and care and make a difference in one child’s life…and a whole bunch of people to share his story…and hopefully before long, there are two kids…and then four.

That is my wish for all of us for 2019


Note: For some wonderful anti-bullying resources, please go to the National Bullying Prevention Center

About the Author

Stefanie Zucker is President and co-founder of Pediatric Medical and Managing Director and co-founder of Axios Partners, a strategy consulting firm. After a number of years spent researching the safety issues associated with transporting children on ambulances she became a child health safety advocate and formed Pediatric Safety with a goal of creating a world-wide movement of parents and caregivers inspired to protect the health and safety of kids. Stefanie is a member of the PedSafe Team


8 Responses to “When One Little Boy Said NO to Bullying… a Message for 2019”

  1. Sondra says:

    Bravo Benjamin E. for speaking up. I hope others learn from your act of kindness and follow your example. Your parents must be very proud of you….I know I am.

  2. Suzanne Hantke says:

    Thank you for this wonderfully written post. And what incredible courage Benjamin had to speak up and try to make a difference!!

    I dealt with quite a bit of bullying at school growing up, and coming home from school, or ‘playing sick’ so I didn’t have to go in in the first place was my refuge from that. I can’t imagine how much worse my life might have been if the torture continued in the place I felt safest.

    There was a wonderful movie put out by ABCFamily called “Cyberbully” back in 2011, (http://www.examiner.com/article/abc-family-original-movie-cyberbully-premieres ) and I really thought it portrayed the reality of what bullying can do to a child. It began with a focus on a popular, seemingly well adjusted child prior to the bullying, and her rapid decline after it started.

    As adults, the solution seems so simple…. turn off the computer, or don’t go on those sites… but does that really help?

    Curiosity apparently doesn’t just kill cats. As an adult, I admit that if I was told someone was talking about me, I’d be curious as to what they had said…. so I can’t imagine a child withstanding that sort of pressure…. especially if it is written on a site that all their friends visit religiously. It makes them an outcast just by virtue of not going on the site ‘like everyone else does’.

    In my opinion, it is like a kind of brainwashing. When you are constantly called derogatory names and put down, it does not take long before it wears away at your self esteem… especially for a child, who’s personality and self esteem are just forming.

    I didn’t equate the verbal abuse I constantly got in school with my low self esteem as an adult for a long time. I had a family that loved me… and never failed to express that love… so why was I so depressed all the time? Why did I believe with every fiber of my being that I was just stupid? No one in my family ever told me anything but how smart I was. I hated myself for a very long time, and my first (of four before the age of 17) suicide attempt was when I was only 10. When I look at my 13 year old niece now, it is a reality check of just how young that really was!

    It was not until a few years ago, when I read the amazing book, “Please stop Laughing at me” by Jodee Blanco that the pieces started to fit into the puzzle for me.

    But the difficult truth, in my opinion, is not that the kids witnessing the bullying are not speaking up because they don’t care or don’t want to get involved… it’s self preservation… the very real fear of it all suddenly turning on them! How do we, as adults, help these kids to find a way to speak up without fear of retaliation?

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