Going back to school makes me anxious. Although I haven’t entered a classroom myself in over 15 years, the concept of going back to school terrifies me. When I was younger, I was bullied. I remember the feeling clearly. Heading to class every day, looking over my shoulder, and wondering what would set off my attackers. Would I say the wrong thing in class? Would I be put down for what I was wearing? Or would it be worse? Would I get gum in my hair? Have my clothes ruined? Each day was terrifying, not knowing what would happen to me. I lived in fear and my self-esteem was degraded, but luckily, I had a strong support system and was able to move past being bullied.
A few years later, I was working as a co-op student in a grade one class at a local school. I loved being surrounded by the kids. They looked up to me for inspiration, leadership, and help. But the best part was, they didn’t know about my past; it was a clean slate. One of my duties as a co-op student was to tidy up the coatroom after the children left. A few weeks into my position, I noticed a little boy from my class hanging around the coatroom. He was taking his time putting on his shoes and was delaying going home. I would help him out and send him on his way. As the days passed, I noticed he stayed later and later. I began to watch him throughout the rest of the day. He wasn’t eating his lunch, he avoided interacting with other children, and he complained of stomach aches, but when asked if he wanted to go home, he would miraculously feel better. The behaviour got worse and worse.
After gaining his trust and friendship, I eventually got him to talk to me. He was being bullied. His babysitter had a child a few years older than him and picked on him constantly. That child would steal his snacks, call him names, and occasionally become aggressive towards him. He tried to tell his babysitter, but it was her child so she didn’t believe him. I immediately involved the teacher and his parents. He was moved to a new sitter, regained friendships in the class, and his personality began to shine. I don’t know if it was because I was bullied that I saw the signs when no one else did, but I think if we educate more people on the signals, we can prevent bullying before it becomes damaging.
Signs that someone may be being bullied (Stop Bullying):
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
Be Awesome at the Dufferin Mall
The Dufferin Mall is kicking off the Back-to-School season with an anti-bullying event called “Be Awesome”. This event will include motivational speakers, such as Hannah Alper (Global Citizen Advocate & Change Maker) and Neil Pasricha (New York Times bestselling author of The Happiness Equation and The Book of Awesome), and a fashion show in conjunction with Wear Your Label. Their hope is to spread awareness about the anti-bullying movement and how one kind gesture can cause a ripple effect in someone’s life.
Event Details: Saturday, September 24th 2016 from 2:30 pm – 4 pm
- Guest Speaker, Neil Pasricha – 2.30 pm
- Wear Your Label Fashion Show – 3.30 pm
- Guest Speaker, Hannah Alper – 3.45 pm
Don’t stand by and let friends, coworkers or strangers be bullied. Step in now! A smile, a helping hand or a compliment can cause a ripple effect of positivity, and it all starts with you! The time to BE AWESOME is now!
Not close to the Dufferin Mall? Join the event on Twitter by following the hashtag #BEAwesome and following the twitter handle @Dufferin Mall
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by the Dufferin Mall and the #BeAwesome Event. All stories and opinions are my own.