Jodee Blanco, anti-bullying expert, activist and survivor, spoke in the Loma Hopkins Theatre on September 23rd to 4 separate groups. She spoke passionately from her heart. Much of the talk centered on experiences as an outcast from grades 5-12 when she was targeted by a long line of school bullies. Watching Jodee relive her past was intensely moving. In each of the 4 sessions, 2 for students, 1 for teachers and an evening session for parents and children, the audiences were so riveted, you could have heard a pin drop as she re-created the cast of bullies who tormented her physically and emotionally. Her one-woman performance was absolutely spellbinding.
The recurring theme of each of her talks was “stop laughing at me.” Jodee did a wonderful job of expanding the definition of bullying by saying, “Bullying is not just the mean things you say or do. It’s all the nice things you never do.”
A few tips for parents from Jodee Blanco:
1. Never say to a bullied child: “Ignore the bully and walk away; they’re just jealous; twenty years from now, those bullies will probably be in jail and you’ll be successful; I know how you feel; or be patient.”
2. This is what you should say to your bullied child: ” I don’t know how you feel. I can imagine what you’re going through. It must be awful.” Step two: “Let’s talk about an action plan that we can take together today to help solve this problem that you’re facing.” Step three: Contact the local park district, public library, and community center one town over and ask them to send you a list of their youth programs. Review this information with your child and help him choose something he can participate in.
3. When approaching the parents of bullies, rather than initiating the conversation on an accusatory note likely to make them defensive, start out by emphasizing what you have in common as opposed to what separates you. You might try something along these lines: “Our kids are struggling with each other, so why don’t we get together and discuss how we can help them both?”
Please go to JodeeBlanco.com to gain additional insights on the topic of bullying. -Cliff Clark