Did you know...
One out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015).
19.6% of high school students in the US report being bullied at school in the past year. 14.8% reported being bullied online (Center for Disease Control, 2014).
64 percent of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36 percent reported the bullying (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010).
More than half of bullying situations (57 percent) stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied (Hawkins, Pepler, and Craig, 2001).
The reasons for being bullied reported most often by students were looks (55%), body shape (37%), and race (16%) (Davis and Nixon, 2010).
Stats sources here http://www.pacer.org/bullying/newsletter/
October is national anti-bullying month, a time to raise awareness and participate in programs for prevention. In this spirit, I gave a presentation at an all-girls high school in NYC talking about my novel SUGAR, using our voices, and how sometimes the loudest bullies are in our heads, telling us we're too much or not enough.
Here, I wanted to share an excerpt from my talk:
"...This brings me to another point that's integral to Sugar's story. It's a variation on the voice I've been talking about. I think so many times, myself included, there's another voice that can be louder than the soul-voice deep inside. The one I've been talking about is the unique, sparkling, brilliant inner-voice that truly belongs to you. Sometimes it's hard for us to really hear our own voice, to see all the great pieces of who we are because of what we've heard, what we've been told, or what we've digested and tell ourselves. This was Sugar's experience. Mama, Skunk, kids at school, and in the community drowned her voice in an incongruent message about food and self-image, by bullying, through belittling comments and laughter about her size. And when that happened, those voices GOT louder than her soul-deep voice. She internalized those other voices as her own.
This has happened to me as well. Maybe some of you too.
Sometimes the cruelest, harshest, and most hurtful voice is that other-voice, creeping in when we catch our reflection in a shop window, when seated next to a friend whose thighs are smaller or larger, or when scrolling through our Instagram feed where there's just so much bronzed skin.
For a long time, there was a LOUD other-bully-voice in my ears."
If this is true for you, we can shift the internal voice of the bully.
Close your eyes.
Have a look around—inside.
What do you see?
What do you feel?
Your goodness? Strength? Resilience? Fortitude? Compassion?
Pick a positive quality.
Are you a kindness ninja? Careful listener-unicorn? Friendly dragon?
Open your eyes.
Those same traits that make you don't stop on the surface.
Eyes open, this time have a look around? What do you see? What do you feel? Stay focused on you because if I've learned anything about this life it's that:
Comparison is a trap.
Instead of the shoulds, the criticism, the body judgments and the booty judgements and the eyes, nose, mouth judgments—instead of focusing on all of the things that we think we don't like, what if we listed and told "that other voice—the bully that has the mic" things we do like about ourselves?
Are your eyes stunning? Are your toes adorable? What about those dimples? That smile? Those strong hips?
Fill in the blank: Today I am _______.
One day at a time, one body-positive compliment at a time, push back against the inner-bully. You shine on the inside so tell that bullying critic that you shine on the outside and what you're really made of...some pretty outstanding stuff!
I encourage readers to to check out PACER http://www.pacer.org/bullying/newsletter/ and participate in the events in October and all year long.