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14 Year-Old Teen Hits One Nail on the Head, “Bullying Sucks”

I saw an article from the Huffington Post written by a 14 year-old high school teen from Pennsylvania, Olivia Busch titled, "Why We Are Not Doing Enough About Bullying".

First off, kudos to Olivia for being 14 and being published on HuffPost; that is the definition of kicking butt for an aspiring writer. In her article, she says that schools probably aren't doing enough to address bullying. She talks about how technology is making bullying an around-the-clock problem, as kids have to deal with bullies in school for seven hours, then deal with online, too. She mentions several students by name and shares their stories about how bullying has affected their lives, with more than one student saying the dropped out of school or transferred schools because of incessant bullying.

One of the students quoted in the article, Chelsea Shaffer from western Pennsylvania, hit close to home with me when she said, "Bullying sucks, especially when you're one of the few African American or mixed kids in your school." She hit close to home with me for two reasons; first,  because she said, "Bullying sucks". When I titled my book, "Bullies Suck", I did it because I thought it embodied the energy and emotion that people feel when they think of bullies or bullying. I believed it to be the raw, unedited reaction that courses through anyone when faced with bullying and I wanted the title to connect with that emotion. I was shocked and disappointed when some people – especially some of those I respected – did not like the title and thought it was "too controversial". Miss Chelsea validated my decision by describing bullying like she did. Bullying DOES suck, and so do bullies.

The other point that touched my heart is when Chelsea mentioned being "African American or mixed kids in your school". My wife is of Chinese descent, so my children are both "mixed kids". My daughter has my cheeks, smile and legs; my family's wavy hair, her Momma's build and her Momma's eyes. Because of her eyes, she is going to look different than other kids. Shameless plug – she is a gorgeous little girl and Daddy fears she is going to grow up to be even more exotic-looking and beautiful – but on a serious note, I have concerns about her and my soon-to-be-born son that they are going to be bullied because of their heritage.

I don't have concerns about them being prepared about bullying; their Mom and I will make sure they both have a strong foundation and I will make sure that they can take care of themselves if the need arises. My concern is that they are going to experience it in the first place.

Olivia is right in her article; schools are where bullying happens most, followed by the Internet. While my kids are going to be ready, I wish I could make it so they don't have to be exposed to bullying at all. I realize that isn't possible. Like I mention in the book and have written about here on the site, the school systems don't have enough time or money to focus on bullying. The school systems' focus is – and rightfully so – reading, writing and arithmetic. They also have an aversion to liability and lawsuits, so they put Draconian policies in place that promote zero tolerance and go from there. Even with these policies in place, Olivia and others are saying it is not enough.

There are many things that could help Olivia and these teens deal with bullying, and of course, the book "Bullies Suck" and the Ultimate Bullying Solution Society newsletter are two of them. What I saw in all the stories that Olivia shared was  - once again – a feeling of helplessness and being powerless to stand up to the bullying. All the students talked of being bullied and feeling as if there was no where they could go to get away from the bullying. It keeps recurring over and over in almost all the stories I read that people feel as if they can't stand up for themselves or need permission to do so. It's almost as if people have either forgotten how, or were never taught.

It's the difference between being reactive or proactive; playing offense or playing defense. When you are defensive, you are reacting; the other person is making you react to what they are doing. In short, they are in control of your actions and reactions. When it comes to bullying, you want to be on offense; you want to take your power back from the bullies. You want to go from being in fear of what the bully or bullies are going to do or say next and focus on what YOU are doing – or going to do.

Bullying isn't going away; it is hard-wired in our DNA. Schools can't stop it. No one is coming to the rescue. The only answer to bullying is to be prepared, and that means we have to learn – and then pass onto our kids – the tools necessary to deal with it when it happens. Chelsea is right; bullying  - and bullies – suck. It is up to us to do something about it.

Stay Strong,

Sensei

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