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Using her story as her power

Posted: 5/5/2017

“Take a look at your quirks and your traumas and find your own greatness.”

Sherry Saturno is a national award-winning social worker and filmmaker, who wrote and produced a short documentary film about what drives professionals to help others titled “Human Investment.” The foundation for much of her work came from her personal experience of being bullied as a child, which she spoke about in a recent TEDx Talk.

“I was bullied for many years,” Saturno said in an email to PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “I am not ashamed of an experience that happened to me and neither should others be. Our stories and our struggles make us uniquely who we are, but too often, out of shame or fear, we silence the very narrative that is the foundation of our strength.

“As an adult, I recognize how those years shaped my character,” she continued. “I began to use adversity as motivation, and every time someone told me that I couldn’t accomplish something, that would make me try that much harder. Adversity can be transformed into something beautiful and hardship can create ambition, not just to achieve professional goals, but to chase after your own happiness and build the life that you want for yourself.”

Sherry was deeply affected by stories she heard about how kids who were experiencing bullying were struggling; she understood how isolating the experience can be. By creating a TEDx Talk and talking openly about bullying, isolation, and rejection, she shares her message about how her experiences shaped her character, her motivation, and how she could help others. “Use rejection as your fuel,” she says. “Your story, the source of your struggle, is your power."

By: Anonymous

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University of Northern Iowa creates inclusive dance company

Posted: 2/13/2017

ROAR! The United Dance Company is working to create an inclusive dance company for children with disabilities at the University of Northern Iowa. UNI students are paired with K-12 students, both with and without disabilities, and come together every week to dance, improve confidence, and boost self-esteem. Their main emphasis is inclusion.

“We want people to know that having a disability does not define who you are,” says Bethany Piotter, founder and president of the dance company. “When the kids are all together, they have no idea that some of the other members of the dance group have a disability. There are many people who believe that certain people are not capable of certain things; our group exists to prove them wrong. There is not a soul in our company whose life hasn’t been touched by the amazing kids we work with.”

In January, the United Dance Company performed at their first University of Northern Iowa basketball game. They danced to the song “Roar” by Katy Perry. According to Piotter, these students and dancers come together for one common purpose: “to spread some pretty amazing love!”

For information and to view a video of the dance company’s basketball game performance, visit the group’s Facebook page.

By: Anonymous

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Taking a stand

Posted: 11/22/2016

Bullying is defined as “Unwanted aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” Even though bullying is most common with kids, it happens wherever you go. Bullying is something as simple as telling someone they’re not smart or they’re not good enough to do whatever it is they do. No matter what your saying to them, if it’s unwanted and aggressive, it’s bullying, plain and simple.

Many people like to say that ‘words hurt only if you let them’, I know that one’s common in my house. When you think about it, it makes sense doesn’t it? A word is only letters of the alphabet put together to make a complete thought. I guarantee you though, if you ask anyone who’s been a target of bullying; whether it’s in person or online, they’ll tell you that’s not the case. They’ll tell you that those hurtful words damage them, and follow them for many years to come. Once those words get inside your brain, they’re always going to be there. The Center of Disease Control quotes that “Students who experience bullying are at an increased risk for poor school adjustment, sleep deprivation, anxiety, and depression”. That’s why I’m here today, in an attempt to convince you that as a nation, we need to protect these kids from further harassment and bullying. It’s time someone thought of the kids here.

Some of you may be thinking, “How does she know all of this?” I know, cause I had a firsthand experience at what it’s like to be bullied, and to have their hurtful words constantly flood into your mind. That’s right, I was a target of bullying. Let me tell you first hand, it’s a nightmare to deal with. It’s a nightmare to go through the day, constantly wondering if that person’s going to make a hurtful remark against me or if that person is going snicker at me when I walk past them. It’s exhausting to constantly wonder if someone’s going to decide to make fun of me today, solely based on the fact of how I look or what my personality is. I was lucky though, it all ended eventually. I can’t tell you how happy and full of joy I was at the fact that I had no longer had to worry about these people making my life a living nightmare. As much as I hate to say it, it didn’t stop as easily as it should have. It took 5, maybe even 6 times of going to adults and saying that I was being bullied, that they were making me feel worthless every day for them to do something.

We need to take a stand for people going through this every day. Times are changing all around us, and it’s time we think about students who experience bullying and what they need.

By: Miranda, student

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Posted: 11/16/2016

Believe in yourself and all you want to be. Don’t let what anybody else says or does make you frown. Laugh as much as possible. Let in the good times and get through the bad. Be happy with who you are and where you are.

By: Anonymous

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Choose your type

Posted: 11/7/2016

When it comes to making a difference in the world, you can be a fire type, a water type, or a gas type.

Matt Hogan is the Head Instructor at Master Khechen's Martial Arts Academy – Buffalo, and he is the founder of The Only Direction and MoveMe Quotes. He wants to inspire the community to act.

Excerpt from Matt’s post on The Only Direction:

In order to avoid a conflict, either verbally or physically, I’ll shut down, close my mouth and try and separate myself from the situation as fast as possible. There have been times when I have chosen to remain silent about things that I believed to be wrong, unjust, or hurtful. I was the bystander; the watcher; the one who becomes the gas for the fire.

Choose to stand up for what you believe in – be an upstander.

The answer, of course, is to do your best to always act as an upstander; a person who recognizes that something is wrong and acts to make it right. When you fail to act to make something right in some way, shape, or form – you’re the gas. Intentions and good thoughts don’t count. And the second you choose to be an upstander you change your state from being a gas to becoming water. Just like that.

Learn more about the three key actions we can take to become rock solid upstanders.

By: Anonymous

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Mom, music teacher creates bullying prevention song

Posted: 11/1/2016

“Stop That! A Bullying Prevention Anthem” was written by Annie Lynn and Chris Arms as a response to bullying experienced by Chris’ daughter and Annie’s son Alex and his friends nine years ago. Alex was just 11 years old with Asperger’s when he was the target of bullying. But when the boy who bullied Alex began targeting an 8-year-old boy with autism on the school bus, Alex turned around and told the boy, “Stop it!”

During this time, Annie had been attending workshops about best practices in bullying prevention, and was using the online resources available from PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. “I had so many talking points stuck in my head, and so much frustration and sadness for my child and all the others who were being bullied,” Annie said. “I ended up writing a few songs about bullying prevention and tolerance and acceptance. Most of my songs have the word ‘kindness’ in them because, to me, success anywhere starts with kindness. It’ll beat negativity every time.”

Annie, who was working as a volunteer with the music teacher in her son’s school district, gathered a group of other children who had been bullied, including Alex, and recorded “Stop That! A Bullying Prevention Anthem.” Annie has received positive responses to the song from around the world, demonstrating the fact that bullying is a global issue. She and Chris have now made the song available to PACER. “I want to be a part of the important work PACER has been and is doing,” Annie said. “I have followed PACER and its advice for years and years, in distant admiration.” She also noted that Alex is now a sophomore in college and is “doing well.”

By: Annie

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Inspiration Through Music

Posted: 10/28/2016

This music immediately spoke to me and I knew instantly what the song would be about. I wrote the song in 20 minutes. It was obvious to me this upbeat track would be about my experience growing up feeling like a misfit and being bullied.

All through my school years, I felt very different given my height (I’m a little over 6’1” today) and my blond hair. We’re talking about a town where a petite brunette with curly locks and a bit of a tan is more the norm. As years went on, I didn’t know how to navigate the nastiness thrown at me so I shut down and didn’t rebel nor voice my uneasiness. I didn’t know how to be like everyone else. I realize now of course, it’s a good thing, to be different. But back then, it tore me apart, or at least I let it tear me apart. If my story and my song can give just a little bit of hope to a kid in despair, I would be the proudest person on Earth.

By: MarieLine

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On a Mission to Stop Bullying

Posted: 10/26/2016

I was bullied in elementary school because I was short and different. Kids would tease me, call me names, and spread rumors about me. I told the teachers what was going on but nothing was being done and the bullying just got worse. I started to come home from school crying and sometimes I would be crying when my parents dropped me off at school. So, I told my parents what was going on, they did something about it, and things got better for me. I want people to know that they're not alone and that things will get better and that they should never keep bullying a secret. No one deserves to be bullied. After experiencing being bullied I am taking a stand against bullying. I am on a mission to stop bullying.

By: Morgan

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Are You Ready for a Bully Boogie Challenge?

Posted: 10/25/2016

Do you know how to be a friend or how to prevent bullying? Can you describe bullying and other hurtful behaviors? The right answers could get you all the way to the finish line in The Bully Boogie Challenge Board Game. This family game, created by South African student Ryan Prithraj and his father, explores bullying from all angles with players gaining and losing spaces in a Chutes & Ladders format.

Ryan created this game as a college student with the aim of helping children learn the effects of bullying as well as the core concepts. Ryan himself suffered bullying throughout his school career and has never forgotten it. Because of his experience, he wanted players to get a feeling of the consequences of bullying as they maneuver their way through friendly and bullying behaviors to reach the Finish Line.

The game has already sold thousands of units since its debut last December and has received an endorsement from the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education as a tool that “equips schools and teachers with a foundation which can go a long way in creating awareness about bullying.”

By: PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center

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The Lifelong Effects of Bullying: An Open Letter

Posted: 10/18/2016

Dear Girls I Will Never Forget,

You may not remember me, but I recall you vividly. I was the overweight girl from a broken home in your neighborhood, at your school, and in your classes. I was the outcast. It is said that students who bully tend to try to control those with less power. If that is true, then I was the perfect target for your hurtful behavior. I would like to invite you into my life back then.

You began teasing me about my weight around age eight. This was the type of teasing many people still refer to as “harmless.” It is this kind of teasing most children unfortunately have endured at some time in their lives. I remember being 11 years old, not wanting to leave the house because your gang of girls would be waiting. Do you remember the day one of your fathers parked his truck in front of my house, with four of you in the back yelling out obscenities? Or how about the day you took chalk and wrote ”FAT” on the sidewalk in front of my house in bold letters. I remember this well. This is permanently etched into my memory.

What did I do in my life to provoke such torment? Absolutely nothing. And how did I respond to such cruelty? Absolutely nothing. Why didn’t I defend myself? Because I was overwhelmed.

Here is what you do not know about my personal life. I was abused and my household was in constant turmoil. I had no one in whom I could trust or confide in. As a refuge and sense of comfort, I turned to food to fill the emptiness. This was to be my demise. It became a vicious cycle where the more I was abused, the more I ate. No place was safe for me.

In 7th grade, I transferred into another junior high school as the district became aware of the bullying. There was a student who bullied me at this new school; yet without back-up, she left me alone. As the years went by, the abuse became less frequent. We entered into the same high school; you became cheerleaders, and I turned to drugs. My home life had become worse. I turned to anything in order to fill the emptiness inside.

I am now 46 years old and still struggle with my self-image and relationship with food. Those tapes still play in my head, voices taunting me over my appearance. And yet, I have become a survivor. Those voices have become dimmer and do not have the same effect they did when I was a child. I AM a survivor.

I would like to let you know why I have chosen to write this letter 35 years later. I want you to know the impact your behavior had in my life. I am a mother of 4 amazing, polite, kind, and compassionate children. My hope is that you are raising your kids to be kind. Maybe after reading this, you will teach your own children the impact bullying can have on an individual. If your children are being bullied, advocate for them. Love them and help them to see the value of their lives. I wish you no harm and forgive you for your painful childhood actions.

By: Anonymous

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