I am not saying this to terrify any parent into thinking their child is not safe in school. I am just saying, there are bullies, there are the children being bullied and unless somehow we have morphed into a serene, peace loving society, then BULLYING is going to happen. The questions is, what are YOU prepared to do to end it? What are you going to tell the child who is being bullied, if you are fortunate enough for them to share it with you? What are you as a parent or teacher going to tell the child who is the bully? The questions are as hard as the answers, because quite frankly I don't know if anyone has the magic answer because if they did, I wouldn't be writing this blog tonight.
I do have hope. I do have faith in the human spirit. I do believe that as a society we can work together to make our homes and schools a safe haven for children. It will take lots of work and commitment, not only from the parents, the entire family, the children, the education faculty, the local, state and federal government, but it can be done. If we, as a nation, are stepping in to help children around the world, starving, terrified and in desperate need of help, then we also have to be willing to put the same amount of energy and resources into making sure our children in our own cities are safe. So again I ask the question, what are you going to do to end bullying? How many more children do we have to lose to suicide due to bullying?
I know my blog is new, but I ask these questions with the hope of starting a dialog here. This is a safe place to express your opinions, your thoughts and concerns. I don't have all the answers and I don't claim to, but I am open to suggestions. I am willing to work on making our schools, homes and nation a safer place for our children. I am committing to go out on a limb to talk to adults about what and how they say things to young, impressionable kids. I am willing to talk to young kids and let them know there are safe places for them to come and talk to people who care. I am willing to look a bully in the eye and say "STOP IT." I am a non-violent person and I believe this is a situation where violence isn't the answer, but it will be uncomfortable, it will take nerve and daring. But as a survivor of bullying, I feel it is an obligation of mine, a pay it forward moment for surviving, for learning from my struggles and for making amends with some of those who bullied me. For the others, who is to say they even know they were a bully? I haven't seen them or talked to many of them in maybe 25-30 years, maybe longer. But the point is, I am empowered because I believe in myself, I embrace my differences, hell, I actually love that I am different. We have to let our kids know it is perfectly fine to be different.
I also will not sit here and lecture on suicide not being the answer, without first saying it had crossed my mind many times in the past when I was growing up. It didn't have anything to do with my family, it was the incessant taunting, of being made to feel inadequate, a freak, a sissy and much worse, all because I was and am GAY. I didn't even know in the beginning that it was called gay, I just knew I was different; and from what I was being told at church I was an abomination. Yes, that bullying came from my church. But as time went on, things got better, not an entire cessation of it, but it did get better. That is what I love so much about the It Get's Better campaign. If you have not seen it please visit their website at www.itgetsbetter.org or look it up on YouTube and make sure you let a child in need, a teenager in need or an adult in need watch it. You can even watch a video of President Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden talking about It Gets Better. I am living proof that it does get better. Each day, each year is a blessing now. We need to let our children feel this way too.
Use the comment section below and leave me your feedback. Let's get this conversation started before its too late for another child. You can also visit It Gets Better on their Facebook page. #backtoschool #endbullying #bully
Have a peaceful night!
Johnny Bryan Ward