The day my heart broke … a story about bullying.

I usually keep this site to contests, workshops, promoting others, and book announcements. Rarely do I veer off and talk about myself, but I have something to share today. Some of you may have seen a clip of a video I passed around last month. It’s of a young member of my family (we’ll call her A) being jumped in the hallway of her school. She’s only twelve. Some girls decided that A wasn’t worthy of respect. Their jealousies and hatred toward her was so great that they decided to attack A and record it. Here’s the snippet I had shared …

 

In the video, one girl waits with phone ready while two girls stop A at the perfect spot to record the encounter. The girl recording it then yells, “Sienna, swing!” A dodges the first blow and pushes the girl away from her. That’s when the bigger girl moves in and punches A. Watching this recording made me sick. Broke my heart. My sweet A was attacked! The girls then spread the video on all their social media accounts to further humiliate A. It’s the new trend–attack someone, record it, share it, and become famous. Famous? How sick have we become as a society that our children are laughing at these cruel videos–laughing at the victims? I have no words. As I said, my heart is breaking.

Bullying is nothing new. Most of us have experienced it. I was bullied my entire sixth grade year by an eighth grader. I still remember her name. Victims always remember the names of their bullies. It stays with you like the scar that the abuse leaves behind in your memories. Nowadays, it’s even worse. I see it in our community, online, it’s everywhere. Recorded and shared so that the bullying continues way after the incident ended.

On the social media site where this was shared, it got hundreds of likes/favorites/whatever. Our kids are watching these videos as a form of entertainment. They share it with their friends and watch together and laugh at the victim and praise the attackers for getting the best of their victim. It vicious. And sad.

In the video, A is surrounded by her classmates. No one stepped forward to help. Not one ran off to get a teacher.

Not one.

How can we stop it? I don’t think we can completely stop it. We could prevent more incidents. Maybe? It’s so much bigger than us. I believe we start at home. We must teach our kids to stand up for one another. That viewing and liking videos of acts of bullying is not right. We can teach our kids the meaning of empathy. And probably the meaning of compassion, too. Ask them to put themselves in the shoes of the victims. How would they feel? Help them to understand what hopelessness feels like. We can ask them to imagine being afraid to walk the halls at school, feeling that no one likes you, that you are worthless. And then we can encourage them to reach out to victims of bullying. Show them they matter. Friend them. Ease their pain.

That is what happened for A. Three beautiful girls reached out to her. Became her friends. Showed her she wasn’t alone. That she was worthy. That she mattered.

The girls who attacked A continue to say mean things under their breath when passing her. They spread horrible rumors of things that A hasn’t and would never do. There’s been whispers that they are planning another attack. But no matter what I say,  A won’t leave her school. She has her new friends. Her music. She’s determined to make her stand. And I’m determined to keep her safe. I can’t wait until summer break – one more month.

Bullying doesn’t stop when we grow up. There’s bullies in the workplace, online, and in our community. I see it everywhere. So if you spot it happening, reach out to the victim. Make a stand. Let the bully know that it’s not acceptable behavior. Block them.

Some of my friends will be guest posting about their bullying experiences this month, we’d love you to stop by and read the posts. Share them with your kids. And please share your stories in the comments of this post.

To find out more about bullying and to learn the warning signs of bullying, go to http://childsafetyblog.org/.

 

 

Author: Brenda Drake

New York Times bestselling author of Thief of Lies (Library Jumpers #1), Guardian of Secrets (Library Jumpers #2), Touching Fate (Fated Series #1), and Cursing Fate (Fated Series #2) available now, creator of #PitchWars, #PitchMadness, and #PitMad, fueled by coffee and Goldfish crackers (but not together), and represented by Peter Knapp with The Park Literary Group. @brendadrake

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52 Comments

  1. Thank you for sharing this Brenda. I can’t understand how people can be so cruel to each other. I’might glad some friends came alongside A and are helping her through.

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    • Thank you, Julia! I can’t understand how they can be so cruel either. It’s never been my nature.

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  2. This broke my heart to watch Brenda. The people who record these things make me so angry. There are Samaritan laws in some states because of exactly what happened here. And the girls that did it – I wish I could say I feel sorry for them. I’m told we should have compassion for girls/boys like this because they probably have a bad home life. I don’t. And I honestly hope that what comes around, goes around for people like that.

    I’ve been through it virtually through the wonderful world of writing, in my adult hood (proof that little girls like this, do honestly grow up to be adults like this). Both of my girls have been through it one way or another and it seems to mostly happen around the middle school age – my oldest handled herself so well but I worry, a lot, about my younger daughter. She’s still so “young”, innocent, naive, somewhat. I have no idea how to protect her. Unfortunately we depend on their friends, like you said, to help them through it when we’re not around.

    I’m so third party proud of your daughter for standing up for herself though. Honestly. And for not letting them run her off. The less power you give them, the less they have and eventually, they will becoming boring to the same people who stood around cheering them on.

    Didn’t mean to ramble on like that. This topic really hits home with me. I’m so glad you’re posting and sharing. I hope it helps someone out there. XOXO

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    • Thank you for sharing, Jo! And you weren’t rambling. I believe the only way these girls can change is if their peers stand up to them – tell them it’s wrong instead of rewarding them for their bad actions.

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  3. I’m so sorry this happened to A, Brenda. Terrible. Truly a horrific example of human nature.
    We started teaching our children at a young age what bullying is and how much it hurts. I pray it never happens to them – and I’m determined to raise people who won’t do it to others.

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    • Thank you, Heather! Teaching them early is the best defense. Knowing what to do before something like this happens is key.

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  4. This is soo heartbreaking I’m glad you shared and heartsick you have to. Please let A know she’s got friends she’s never met that care! I was bullied in 7th grade in the girls locker room by older girls and again in 10th by a girl who made life a living hell. Eventually it stopped and at a HS reunion she went around apologizing to all of us she hurt. Sending A strength and protection from afar.

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    • Thank you, Holly! That’s amazing that she went around apologizing. I will let A read all the comments. I’m sure they will be nice for her to hear.

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  5. Thanks for sharing your painful story, Brenda. It breaks my heart that children have to suffer at the hands of cowards. I’m so happy A has made new friends and is making this about her and not them. When, in America, land of the free, we have a man running for President who bullies people on the air and on social media, I worry for the children whose parents support such a person. Trickle down hate is frightening.
    So you’re right, it doesn’t go away, and the fact that children ‘like’ these videos is disgusting behavior – but it’s the nature of the beast called technology. We need to teach our children to do better, to be better. Self esteem is key, and those bullies in the video, and even those who didn’t step in, lacked the confidence and moral inclination to do so. Support your children, build them up. let them know how special they are every day. Pre-adolescents especially need to hear it. I will definitely share this story with my grandkids ages 8 and 9. The golden rule is still relevant. Wouldn’t it be cool if we got every kid who ‘liked’ a bullying video to ‘unlike’ it. That would be a powerful campaign. Hugs, Brenda.

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    • Thank you, Barbara! It would be so great to have every kid unlike videos they’ve liked. This has definitely got me thinking. 🙂

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  6. I am so saddened by the way kids think it’s ok to harm others. In cases like this it’s like they think they’re making a movie or something. I was bullied in 7th grade. It was awful. So sorry for your girl.
    Since it’s on video, are the girls who filmed it getting in trouble? Shouldn’t they be at least suspended?

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    • Thank you, Jennifer! Yes, the girls were suspended. I think they should require counseling or some sort of class for bullies – maybe offer it through school. I know some of these families can’t afford it on their own. Insurance doesn’t cover nearly enough for it. We know because A is in counseling.

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  7. So, so sorry. May she be strong within the circle of her new friends. Will share with my kids.

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  8. So sorry. That was really hard to watch. I hope the school and parents of those kids are doing something about this.

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    • Thank you, Diana! The school has done everything they could. I’m not sure about the parents.

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  9. I’m so sorry for your sweet A being bullied. There is a cure and we adults are it. We need to speak to our children. Anti-bullying starts at home. I stand with you against bullying. Thanks for sharing <3

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  10. Thank you for sharing this, and please let A know how much I admire and applaud her! In 7th grade, the popular girls ran me out of a school I loved. This was pre-social media, so they created their own. They spread rumors, passed notes, wrote graffiti on the bathroom walls, demanded that everyone give me the silent treatment, made prank calls to my parents, sent my dad a letter telling him false, nasty things about me–all because a boy said he liked me, and not the leader of the girls’ power clique. I asked my parents to stay out of it, thinking it would make things worse. Now I know that it wouldn’t have–I should accepted my parents’ help. I had a few friends who stood by me, and with my parents’ help in reporting the bullies to the school administration, those mean girls probably would have suffered some consequences and would have backed down. Instead, I quietly left at the end of 7th grade. I wish I had found the courage that A has and stayed at a school I otherwise loved. Please tell her to stay strong, and be quick to reach out to the school guidance counselor and report the trash-talk. Words count! It’s still bullying. Those horrible girls need to know there is zero tolerance for their actions, physical or verbal.

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    • Thank you, Sarah! Unfortunately, most of these incidents with girls have to do with a boy. It took a while for A to agree to parental help. I think she was scared of the repercussions that doing so would cause. Once she realized that no matter what she did the girls were going to be mean to her, she’s taken action on all threats.

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  11. Bullying is such a horrible thing and I don’t know how, as a society, that we’ve gotten to this point. I’m so sorry for “A”, NO ONE should ever have to deal with something like this. Has no one in her school seen this video? Can’t the parents get involved?

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    • Thank you, Nicole! The police and school have been involved and the situation is being watched. The girls were suspended. Everything that can be done, has. The parents are questionable – not sure what they are doing if anything.

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      • That’s probably the most disturbing thing of all – the parents typically deny deny deny and are usually, as you say, questionable themselves. I’d be so appalled if I found out my child was treating people badly. I guess that’s the difference though, our children wouldn’t.

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  12. This breaks my heart. Thank you for sharing. As a mom of two young kids, I’m very concerned about this future.

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  13. Crying so hard. The world isn’t fair and never will be. You are right though, we must show increased love to those who have been attacked and stand up for people when we see it happening without fear.

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  14. My heart goes out to A and prayers too. I too was bullied as a kid – I had a vivid imagination and story in my head – which serves me well now because as a writer but I do remember the hurt. One of the girls that bullied me contacted me thinking we were friends. She actually Apologized for her actions. Can A take some self defense classes?- It helps to know that if you are attacked you can defend yourself plus being around people in those classes – they tend to be really nice and supportive. Maybe a call out to writers who will write stories about bullies but not make the bullies look so cool – I loved that movie about the Bridge to Taribithia. There will always be bullies – social media helps them hide but bringing the issue into the light helps. Thanks for sharing.

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    • Thank you, Caroline! Yes, A has taken self defense classes. Loved that movie, too. 🙂

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  15. A sounds like an incredible young lady for staying so strong through this. I wish her all the best. It’s good that she fought back since bullies don’t usually expect that. I just wish she had a little more luck. When I was bullied in high school (by a football player, no less), the only thing that got me off his radar was planting my square-toe cowboy boot right in his bits & pieces one day when he tried to drop me in a trash can. Much as I hate to say it, in my case violence was the answer. I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that in her case. Give her a great big hug for me. <3

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    • Thanks, Sara! It sad when it comes down to violence, but sometimes that’s what needs to be done to protect yourself. I will give her a big hug and sending you a big hug, too! 🙂

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  16. This is a heart wrenching story. I’m sorry A had to go through it and is still enduring it. Everyone who liked that video is a bully as well, they may not realize it, but they are.

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    • Thank you, HR! Yes, they are bullying by liking it. I think kids need to learn that there is a person behind that video who has feelings.

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  17. Can’t even imagine. This is so sad. I’m glad A spoke out, that she stood strong. Showed them that she won’t be crushed by their words or actions.

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  18. I applaud your willingness to share that awful video. I agree that bullying has to stop and that we as a society need to be more empathetic. Why hasn’t the school punished these girls? I find that appalling that they are still in school and allowed to harass A. I hope A realizes how much she’s cared for and that no matter what these girls say or do, she is a worthy person. So sad. I hope she’s talking to someone professional about these experiences. A good therapist can do wonders.

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    • Thank you, Kathleen! A is in therapy. The school has done everything the law will allow them to do. The police have stepped in. If they attack her again, we can press charges against them and the parents. Great, right (sarcasm).

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  19. I’m so sorry this happened to you, Brenda. It’s as though kids today aren’t even phased by this stuff anymore. Whether other kids don’t want to get involved because they don’t want the bullying turning toward them or what, I don’t know. Sadly so many parents won’t have those talks with their kids, because they either don’t believe their kids are capable of such acts (even caught on video they will have an excuse), or they just figure it’s a rite of passage and don’t want to get involved. I’m glad A isn’t backing down and continuing to go to school, and has found a circle of friends for support. You are right about the scars of bullying never leaving us, but I believe it ultimately makes us stronger than them in the end.

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  20. What a terrible thing to happen. I have a daughter the same age, and middle school is absolutely rotten. The best we can do is raise our kids to be kind, to be the ones that stand up to the bullies, the ones who jump in and defend the victim. We also need to keep our kids strong and not let them feel defeated by those that will hurt them. My sweet kid has also experienced bullying, and I understand how your heart must be in pieces.

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  21. Good for A for standing up for herself and for the three girls who are her friends. Shame on the rest of the group/girls who jumped A or didn’t do anything. My daughter was bullied in the fourth grade and the principal told me it was just girls being girls. Shame on him! This took place in Colorado where we’re supposed to have a no bullying allowed policy. Our school district even has an anonymous tip line to report bullies. And yet, our situation wasn’t taken seriously until we moved schools due to new boundaries for the schools in are area. (Unfortunately, the bullied moved with us, but the new principal and teachers stopped it cold. I cried the day they took me seriously and we came up with a game plan together.)

    This won’t stop until society deems it unacceptable, which isn’t going to happen anytime soon. Just look at the biggest bullying example right now–Donald Trump–he receives more sound bites than the other candidates and is applauded by many for his hateful words.

    Thank you, Brenda, for shedding some light on this horrible epidemic in our society.

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  22. Please tell “A” I hold her in my heart. What happened to her, and what is happening to children all over this county, is wrong. They learn it from the adults they see in the media every day. We must change the culture. I’m happy that others have come forward to befriend “A”.

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  23. Bullying happens everywhere… I am a teacher who was bullied by the school’s principal. It was hard to prove; it was impossible to retaliate or sue her… I just left, not without telling some teachers; writing to the district, and confront the principal.

    However, there was no change in her behavior. She knew that nobody would do anything to stop her, and she was right.
    It was the worst time for me, and I actually needed several months of vacation just to get over the depression and nightmares I had.

    I also decided to quit the profession all together. Not just because of this principal, as bullies can show up in any work place, but because of the weak and docile nature of the education system. People knew what happened; pretended they helped me, but actually were helpless. Most of them just kept silent, and didn’t say or do anything. They wanted their pay check to show up every month, and they did not want to rock the boat.

    You can’t change a system; you should confront the bully, and then you just need to quit the situation and strengthen yourself. I learned that this is all you can do.

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  24. It is courageous and generous of you to share this. Parents want to protect their children and can most effectively do so when they are aware of bullying and other threats. Shining a light and banding together are the best ways to confront problems and you are doing both. Thank you and best wishes to you and your daughter.

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  25. Comment I’m so sorry about this, Brenda :-((((( I can’t bring myself to watch the clip again. I can’t wait for you to post that the bullies have FINALLY been expelled.

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  26. Sorry, accidentally sent it before I’d finished. Hope this resolves very soon, and wishing you and your family, and especially A, a smoother, happier time. Lots of love & hugs xxx

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  27. Poignant and right on, Brenda. I’m so sorry this happened and is still happening. Thank you for sharing.

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  28. Bullies don’t grow up to become good people or better people. They never quite grasp how decent society works. It’s a serious problem. And it’s a bit like a disease, as it spreads to victims who end up making very different choices. These bullies should not be the shapers of our world, the deciders of humanity’s path. It needs to be stopped. It needs to be treated as unacceptable. That much lack of maturity and chivalry shows a clear problem and deficiency that should cause a great deal of alarm. It ought to be taken as seriously as finding a tumor growing from the head. That IS how serious bullying is.

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  29. Thank you everyone for your comments and support. This community is so wonderful. It’s wonderful to share and have others understand and reach out with such wonderful words of encouragement and sympathy. Hugs to you all!!

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  30. Even though I love being homeschooled, it’s stuff like this that makes me wish I went to public school so I could stand up for kids like this. I can’t STAND seeing other people get bullied or mistreated…it reeeeeally gets me worked up. I don’t get why so many people just walk by…I would be literally TRIPPING OVER MYSELF to get to this girl and help her. I’m dead serious.

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    • Aww, thank you, Emily. I do wish there were more kids like you out there. It’s so sad that there isn’t.

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  31. What a very important thing to discuss, Brenda. Well said. Years ago I tutored a teenage girl who was disfigured – she was incredibly intelligent, kind, and thoughtful. She used to come to our lessons with tears in her eyes because the children at her school threw rocks at her. To this day I still remember the look on her face when she came to me for support, and it still makes me want to cry for her, and for the cruelty of these children.

    Have you read the book “The things We Know Now” by Catherine Dunne? It is about bullying, and I found it to be a wonderful read.

    My dearest wishes to your A!

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    • Such a sad story, Flavia. It breaks my heart to think of this poor girl going through that. Some kids can be so cruel. Thank you for the book recommendation. I’ll definitely check it out.

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