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SchoolFamily.com's Guest Blogger this week is Rebecca Mooney, M.Ed., the Executive Director of the Center for Education in Violence Prevention based in Melrose, MA. The Center offers comprehensive bullying prevention training for staff, students, and parents.
Several weeks ago my agency sponsored a bullying prevention seminar featuring young adult novelist Megan Kelley Hall.
Megan has become a champion in the campaign against bullying, and has co-edited a new anthology titled, “Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories.” If you haven’t thought about middle school (or junior high, as the case may be) in some time, trust me —this book will bring it all back. The essays are intensely personal and compelling, written from the perspective of victims, bullies and bystanders.
One of my favorites is by Lara Zeises, a self-described “fatty” growing up. She tells the story of being teased relentlessly about her size by two boys throughout middle and high school, her cheeks burning with shame as they laughed and called her cruel names. She actually changed schools and didn’t see them again, but still carried the pain, humiliation, and anger into her adult life. Recently, she decided to search for her former tormentors. After finding one of them through Facebook, she summoned all her courage and told him off. She explained how damaging the harassment had been—and what a jerk he was—but that despite it all, she was now a successful author. So there! He wrote back that if he did, in fact, do those awful things to her he was truly sorry, but said he actually didn’t remember her.
To me this story is such a vivid and poignant illustration of one of the points we teach in our programs for students, staff and parents: Bullying really is about the bully’s need for empowerment, and the victim can be anyone. The bully picks the easiest target, and uses the victim to gain status, power, and popularity. Based on this knowledge, we honestly tell bullying victims, “It’s about them, not you.”
Like many victims, however, Lara did not receive this message when she most needed it. Consequently, she was profoundly affected over a significant period of her life. It’s sad that no one realized what was happening and intervened so that she didn’t have to carry the burden alone. If they had, it might have alleviated a lot of pain, and helped her move on much sooner.
SchoolFamily.com's Guest Blogger this week is Rebecca Mooney, M.Ed., the Executive Director of the Center for Education in Violence Prevention based in Melrose, MA. The Center offers comprehensive bullying prevention training for staff, students, and parents. Over the last 14 years, Rebecca has spearheaded and implemented a range of violence prevention programs in schools and the community, including bullying prevention, domestic and teen dating violence prevention, mentoring, peer mediation and peer leadership programs. She has served as a trainer, panelist, and guest speaker on bullying prevention and teen dating violence for conferences sponsored by the Middlesex District Attorney’s Office, Child Advocacy Center of Boston, Riverside Counseling Center, and Children’s Hospital Boston, among others. In 2004 Rebecca was honored with the Unsung Heroine Award by the Massachusetts Commission on Women for her contributions to the field of violence prevention. She lives in Melrose with her husband and has two young adult daughters.