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Please Stop Laughing At Me - A Bullied Girl's Memoir

It’s the beginning of the school year and many kids – as well as their parents – are dreading the return. Because of bullying.

Though the issue seems to have corrected itself in the last months of the last school year, my daughter was the subject of bullying and nasty rumors in the eighth grade. We had just moved to the area and she was one of a handful of new kids in the middle school of 800+. Not a “misfit” by any definition, being the “new kid” was still enough to make her a target.

The bullying and rumors started a couple of months within the school year. But I only started taking note that something was dreadfully wrong in December when my daughter was in a consistently somber mood and we noticed severe behavior change. Over time, she finally told us what was happening, of course forbidding us to talk to her teachers as she did not want to be seen as a tattletale. Still, the situation was serious enough that I called the school, who was completely ineffective in handling the problem. Eventually, my daughter’s assertiveness and rebuttal to her attackers made an her undesirable target. The bullies moved on. But, who was their next victim?

So, when the publicist of Jodee Blanco’s book, Please Stop Laughing at Me, offered to send a copy, I quickly said yes, eager to read about the author’s own story and see what recommendations she might have…

The book is actually a memoir, written in an easily digestible tone which makes it perfect reading for pre-teens and teens. And I believe that it should be mandatory reading for all students. Bullying victims would see that they are not alone, while bullies would gain a better understanding of the deep pain they actually inflict on others. The Phoebe Prince suicide, among others, is a good reminder that we should all be alert to the issue of bullying. The book should also be read by parents to enable them to read the signs of bullying and by educators to alarm them to take any bullying incident and to take action.

I have never been a victim of bullying or have bullied myself, but the stories of abuse as told in the book had a way to make me completely empathize with the victim and feel how truly painful bullying can be and how it can have a damaging lifelong impact.

Here’s a helpful excerpt from an article written by the author:

School Bullying — Tips Every Parent Should Know
By Jodee Blanco,
Author of Please Stop Laughing at Me . . . One Woman’s Inspirational Story

If we’re to win this war on school bullying, I urge each and every parent reading this column to take stock at home. Is your child a possible victim of bullying? Or are they themselves a bully? When the lights are turned off at night, is your child sleeping, or are they lying awake in the dark, dreading school the next day because they know they will face hurt and rejection the moment they walk through those big glass doors? Do you know the names of the students your child admires, and those they don’t and why? Is your child happy or simply putting on a happy face for you?

Schools reach out to me for solutions to these questions every day. Now I am reaching out to all of you who are parents:

  • Pay attention to your child’s mood. Don’t just relegate grumpiness to back to school blues. It could be fear masquerading as irritability.
  • It’s the beginning of the school year. Get involved now before problems start, not after they’ve begun.
  • Establish a rapport with your child’s guidance counselor.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask your child specific questions, and learn to listen patiently and without judgment.
  • Get to know the parents of your child’s friends and establish an open line of communication and support.
  • Encourage your child to embrace the new students at school. It’s an easy way to make new friends.

As parents, we are often overwhelmed by the responsibilities of daily life. Sometimes we are tired and irritable when we get home from work, and the thought of going one more place, doing one more thing is just too much. Let me just say this. Our own emotions, and most especially, logistics, should never get in the way of being present to, and helping our children.

I’m often asked what my own mom and dad did during my lonely school years that helped. It was something so remarkably simple, but it saved my life, and it could save your child’s life too.

For most bullied students, whether it’s the child who’s overtly abused or the one who’s ignored and excluded day after day, it’s the relentless loneliness that is often hardest to bear. While all the other kids from school are hanging out together, going to parties and having fun, you’re sitting at home, aching to be a part of it, waiting for invitations that never come. I remember those dark moments well, and if your child is experiencing a similar sense of isolation, you need to understand that every child needs friends and a social life, and this is doubly true for bullied kids. If school doesn’t yield this companionship, seek an interim social life for your child, somewhere he or she can participate with other peers in an activity they enjoy.

One of the biggest mistakes parents make is that they become so immersed in trying to deal with the school once they discover there’s a problem, that they forget to tend to their bleeding child first. And make no mistake. The bullied child is bleeding, but they’re bleeding in the form of loneliness. You can stop that bleeding by finding your child a source for friendship, but you must act swiftly, definitively, and follow up.

Also, please visit Jodee Blanco’s website for more information. She is touring the country speaking to students and teachers about the perils of bullying. I encourage you to speak to your school about this program. All schools can benefit from this. The book is available in bookstores and on Amazon.

In the meanwhile, here’s to a healthy, happy and successful year for all students and their families. Fingers crossed.

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Comment by Heather Jones on October 11, 2010 at 11:24pm
I'm all too familiar with being bullied. I just fear the same thing for my little guy and he's only 19 months old. I am small and I think he will be the small dude in class. Lets hope he can defend himself.

Heather From and Mommy Only Has Two Hands! and Lynhea Designs

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