I have a son with mild Aspergers and ADD. He was bullied for several years, schools did very little to help us and when they did, they handled it wrong. In time, we met other children who had also been bullied. Some were bullied because of their mixed race, some because of physical handicaps, some due to religion or appearance. Some were bullied for just for "fun". I was just a seething ball of anger and outrage, feeling helpless for my child and other bullied children. I didn't know what I could do to make a difference. Then I went to a workshop provided by the Anti Defamation League, and I learned some of the key elements to anti-bullying practices. I learned that it is important for kids to find at least one other kid (and hopefully more) who will stand up with them to the bully, and also that even though not all institutions handle bullying properly, it is still the best thing for a child that has been bullied to report the incident RIGHT AWAY to teachers or administrators. I also learned the importance of having those who witnessed bullying to privately report the incident to the teachers/administrators, or if brave enough, to go with the bullied child to report the incident.
I went home after the workshop, filled with mixed emotions. I was still very angry about bullying, but I felt like I had also been empowered to do something. I took the ideas presented at the ADL workshop, added some of my own feelings, wrote a song about what to do in a bullying situation, and then rounded up a bunch of kids that had been the victims of bullying, including my own, and we recorded "STOP THAT! - An Anti-Bullying Anthem" It ended up receiving airplay on a popular kids' nightly radio show in our city, and the kids started getting attention in school.....positive attention for their efforts and talent. It really helped to boost their self esteem, and the product of all this frustration was a song that became a blueprint for how to handle bullying. It is based on best practices in anti-bullying, and is now being used in schools all over the U.S. and also in Brazil and the U.K. I even took one school that performed this song to the State Capitol to sing for our State Senators and Representatives on an Anti-Bullying platform.
I do believe the saying by Margaret Mead that goes, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has." Thank you Margaret for those true words of encouragement. We found power in numbers, and with the ideas in "STOP THAT! - An Anti Bullying Anthem" we were able to get our message out...... that kids need to stick together and tell the bullies that IT'S NOT OK to bully. When so many of your peers take a "that's not cool, that's not okay" position on bullying, it gets harder for the bully. Data shows that by someone intervening in a bullying situation, the bullying ends (for that period of time) more often than not. Even if a lone kid is being bullied, there can be NO BYSTANDERS. I think early education in bullying prevention is KEY, as well as parent and teacher education in this area. Parents and teachers need to see that their own prejudices are imprinted on children at an early age, possibly fostering bullying. Little kids listen, even if you think they don't. I hope all parents and teachers will feel free to watch the video of our song, "STOP THAT! - An Anti-Bullying Anthem" and show it to their kids and students, and maybe even sing along with it eventually. I put in on Youtube, and the URL is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owD6g17ivdY I hope everyone joins together to STAND UP TO BULLYING!!! Thanks for listening....Annie Lynn
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