April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month and in honor of it, I thought I’d do a special two-part post on child abuse and bullying. You may ask why I joined the two issues in one post. To bully is to commit an act of violence and it is the most prevalent form of abuse in society. My young, insightful friend Timmy, who has endured horrific bullying at school, has recently taken note of how adults treat each other as well. He took the time to write his thoughts on adult bullying. The second part of this post isn’t something to read. There are two short videos: First, a short, crucial three-minute video about child sexual abuse and trafficking. Second, a video showing the incredible work being done to catch child predators via the internet. It would mean a great deal to me if you took the time to wach them both.
“Child abuse casts a shadow the length of a lifetime.” ~Herbert Ward
Timmy On Bullying
It never ceases to amaze me how often people will teach a lesson but not take it into their own lives. We all could stand to stop and think about the kinds of people we are and how sometimes our own well-intentioned messages are overshadowed by our actions. Because, as cliché as it is, actions do speak louder than words.
Everyone who wants to be a good influence in a child’s life would hopefully teach that child about bullying and how to protect themselves from bullying and also, maybe even more importantly, how not to become a bully. Teaching a child that it is wrong to bully can drastically alter the way they learn to cope with their own anger and inner turmoil. Because, as Wil Wheaton said, whenever someone bullies, it is never about the victim. It is about them. Something within them makes them feel inadequate or jealous. Something inside of them or a circumstance in their own life makes them feel as if something is missing in their life. To fill that void, or to staunch that pain, they turn it outwards and target someone they view as weaker and inferior to them, but someone who might yet have something they wish they had, like intelligence, integrity, creativity, great friends, or a tight support group. They channel all that hate and anger towards themselves or their own circumstances and they release it on someone who does not deserve to have to share the pain and turmoil. It’s boggling how much easier formative years would be for kids if the adults in their lives not only taught them about how wrong it was to bully, but also showed them by modeling good behaviors and not turning to bullying themselves.
However, there was something else Wil Wheaton said that I don’t agree with, it doesn’t always get better. Sadly there are time when you will encounter adults that bully as well. They can cause very real emotional stress, but those very same bullies will turn around and preach against bullying.
Yes, adults bully too. Adults bully other adults and they bully children. It’s wrong, no matter who is bullying and it’s wrong no matter who is being bullied. If you are belittling someone or the only purpose your words have is to shame, hurt, or embarrass another, look out…you’re bullying. So many adults will display such bullying, and then turn around and tell their children not to bully, but then wonder why children don’t get the message. Actions speak louder than words. When you bully, you teach everyone around you something. Your actions either teach a co-worker that you’re insecure, or it teaches a kid that you’re a hypocrite. Maybe you teach someone close to you that you are not someone they want to be close to. Being a bully hurts everyone. It hurts the bullied as well as the bully themselves. The only difference is, the bully deserves whatever backlash they receive for making the choice to victimize someone else because they feel inadequate. The victim never deserves it.
But it’s not too late for you. If you find that you are a bully, whether intentionally or unintentionally, you can redeem yourself. Start with an apology to the victim and maybe to anyone else you think you might have hurt by bullying. Examples of this might be children in your care that you’ve misguided in how to act, or friends who have followed your example because they don’t want to be ostracized for standing up to you and telling you it’s not ok. Once you’ve apologized, don’t be surprised when everything isn’t instantly fixed. It takes time and, remember, actions speak louder than words. Act. Stand up for people you see who are being bullied. Act. Tell your friend it isn’t ok to bully. Act. Ask a person who is bullying what is going on his or her life that makes them feel the need to pick on others. Act. Try to help a bully find constructive ways to vent frustrations. Act. Teach your children that under no circumstances is it ever okay to take out their frustrations on another. Act. When you feel yourself tempted to bully another, make the choice not to. Show yourself to be a better person. Act. Because actions speak louder than words.
Thanks for reading my post, Timmy
Until you have endured the violation of abuse, whether by a single, violent act of cruelty or a chronic condition of suffering, you cannot know the meaning of self-loss. It isn’t only the obliteration of your belief systems; it is the annihilation of your human worth. Painful beyond description, debilitating, and tragic, bullying leaves everlasting, invisible scars. To say that you will recover from bullying is a myth. You can only survive and compensate for it when and if you are able.
On Child Abuse
VIDEO Child Exploitation
Child Exploitation Infographic
The incredible work being done to catch child predators: Sweetie
Harmony Ink Press: Reach Out and Help a Friend, an article by me.
“I am only one; but I am still one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do.” ~ Edward Everett Hale
See you next month on Saturday, May 17th!
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Όμορφη. Ómorphi. Greek. Meaning pretty
Pretty. adj. /pritē/ Pleasing by delicacy or grace
High school senior Michael Sattler leads a charmed life. He’s a star athlete, has great friends, and parents who love him just the way he is. What’s missing from his life is a boyfriend. That’s a problem because he’s out only to his parents and best friend. When Michael accidentally bumps into Christy Castle at school, his life changes in ways he never imagined. Christy is Michael’s dream guy: smart, pretty, and sexy. But nothing could have prepared Michael for what being Christy’s boyfriend would entail.
Christy needs to heal after years of abuse and knows he needs help to do it. After the death of his notorious father, he leaves his native Greece and settles in upstate New York. Alone, afraid, and left without a voice, Christy hides the myriad scars of his abuse. He desperately wants to be loved and when he meets Michael, he dares to hope that day has arrived. When one of Michael’s team-mates becomes an enemy and an abuser from Christy’s past seeks to return him to a life of slavery, only Michael and Christy’s combined strength and unwavering determination can save them from the violence that threatens to destroy their future together. Read an excerpt of Omorphi
Available from: Harmony Ink Press
Caleb had one mission in life.
To keep his boyfriend safe.
They met at ten, kissed at twelve, and were madly in love by eighteen. Caleb Deering is the captain of the swim team and the hottest senior in school. He comes from a loving home with a kind father and a caring, but strict, mother who is battling breast cancer. Nico Caro is small and beautiful, and has a father who rules with an iron fist—literally. One morning Caleb forgets himself, and he pecks Nico on the lips at school. A teacher sees them and tattles to the Headmaster. The accidental outing at school might be the least of their problems, because the ball set in motion by the school’s calls to their parents could get Nico killed. In the face of that very real danger, Caleb knows he has only one mission in life: to keep Nico safe. Read an excerpt of Safe.