Authors Against Bullying

So, October is National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month (in the US).

That, along with the recent suicide of Canadian tenth-grader Amanda Todd, prompted authors Mandy M. Roth and Yasmine Galenorn to gather authors together for Authors Against Bullying (#AuthorsAgainstBullying on Twitter), a day of blog posts devoted to this painful subject. I am hugely proud to be a part of it.

This is a pretty serious post and I should warn you that I’ll be linking to some difficult things (articles, blog posts, and a video). Adult language will be included. Bullying is a traumatic subject for many people. Please be aware of this before you read any of the link contents, and especially before you watch the video. I still think you should watch the video because, although it made me cry, I believe it’s important to witness Amanda’s pain and suffering – even though she is no longer with us, perhaps her death can help bring more awareness to the whole issue. I just read that Canadian politicians are now considering a national anti-bullying strategy, which can only be a good thing. I hope they’re not just empty words.

My post was going to be about the year I was bullied in school at the age of 14, but something happened just recently that changed my mind. My experience is common enough, and in all honesty I feel genuinely lucky (I know… the irony…) that I was ‘only’ bullied for a period of months rather than years. And I was ‘only’ bullied by one person in school who didn’t really have much support from others for her campaign against me. I ignored her and avoided her as much as possible. Stuck close to my few good friends and pretended it wasn’t happening, even though it made me feel worthless. Humiliated. Small.

I was lucky because she got bored, eventually, and went away.

People like Amanda Todd are not so lucky.

Also, people like the 11-year-old girl I met at an author event I did. Just thinking about her age breaks my heart. I won’t say too much more about the setting, or anything like that, because I don’t want to identify her at all. But here’s what happened.

I’m sitting at the front of a large group of 11-year-old children. The youngest I’ve ever spoken to in my new ‘authorly’ role. All of them wonderful readers. Bright and vocal kids who clearly can’t wait to talk to me about their favourite books. We get to the Q&A part of the presentation.

There are questions about Being An Author.

There are questions about my books in particular.

Questions about the writing process.

Books I like to read and authors I love.

Great questions. Fun questions.

And then there is another question from a girl sitting over to one side, but quite near the front, who practically whispers her question to me:

“Have you ever been bullied?”

I stare at her for a moment, checking I’ve heard her correctly. She’s tiny, even for her age. I feel my throat grow tight and I look at one of her teachers, wondering if she has heard the question too. Is this girl just curious, or is it something more?

I answer her honestly, holding her troubled gaze with mine.

“Yeah,” I say. “I’ve been bullied. Twice, actually. Once when I was an adult – in a job where a lot of older adults ganged up on me and I ended up walking out one day and never going back – and once at school.”

“How old were you then?” she whispers.

“I was fourteen,”I reply. “A bit older than you.”

She smiles. Waits.

So I sigh and tell her – tell the whole room – the story. But really we both know that I am just speaking to her. Just in case. This is how I finish:

“I guess I was pretty lucky, in the end, because it was only for a year. A bit less than that, really.” I look at her, as directly as possible. “Not everyone is that lucky, are they?”

“No,” she says.

My heart breaks and I know she is talking about herself. Eleven years old.

I won’t talk about what I did afterward, because I think it’s important (as I said) that I don’t make a mistake and say anything that might identify her. But I didn’t just walk away.

I hope you’ll join all the authors who are drawing attention to the subject of bullying. There are links to every participating writer’s blog below. Some of them are doing giveaways, but whether we’re giving away free books or not please do something to mark National Anti-Bullying Awareness Month. Even if it’s just to read some of the posts. Do something to support the Authors Against Bullying day of action today.

Thanks for reading.

Oh, and I decided to embed Amanda Todd’s video below. She made the video and put it on YouTube one month before she took her own life:

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18 Responses to Authors Against Bullying

  1. E.J. Stevens says:

    That is such an important message. Do not walk away. When a child or young adult finally reaches out, do not dismiss what they are saying.

    Thank you for sharing and for making a positive difference in a child’s life.

  2. Great post.

    So glad you were able to help that little girl.

  3. N.J. Walters says:

    This is such an important topic for all of us. Thank you for sharing your message and your story. You made a postive difference in that young girl’s life.

  4. My heart is breaking for that little girl. Aww. I do think its something that she reached out even if to a stranger. Maybe it will help her reach out to other adults. Thank you for sharing and for being part of this blog event.

    • Kaz says:

      Thanks, Mandy. And thank you so much for organising this. I think it’s really got people talking today, which is wonderful.

  5. Carmen B. says:

    I hope you could make a difference in that little girl’s life! I was bullied from when I was 8 to when I was about 10 (sometimes it was better, sometimes worse) then again at a different school when I was around 13, 14. After that it got better and I also got better at dealing with it, but sometimes I look back and only realize now that I basically lived in constant fear every day.
    I think it’s important to get help and speak up, but it’s not easy. Going to teachers just made things worse for me, and back then there were no school psychologists (at least not in the rural area where I lived). I think it’s great that awareness is being raised for the problem, because it damages people for years afterwards. Thanks for sharing and taking part in this event!

    • Kaz says:

      Oh, man… I want to give you a massive hug. I’m so sorry to hear you went through that. This part:

      “I look back and only realize now that I basically lived in constant fear every day.”

      That’s beyond awful… What a way to live for so many years.

      Thank you for sharing this with me. I’m glad things eventually DID get better for you.


  6. I feel for that girl. Hopefully something could be done to help her. As an adult, I think it’s very important we listen, and see past just the initial comment or question into where it’s coming from. It sounds like you did that with this girl.

    As an author it’s great to be a part of this important event. I’m empowered by all the stories of hope and encouragement that I’m reading today. It’s wonderful that people can get together and promote the positive.

  7. Jenna Avery says:

    Kaz, It’s so powerful that you’re working to be part of the solution and incredible that little girl spoke up to ask you. I hope she will find her way through it and that you were able to help her. I’m sitting next to my little boy right now thinking about how he’ll handle all this going into regular school next year and what I can do to help him know how to handle these kinds of situations. Amanda Todd’s story is so sad — particularly because it seems all too believable and common in this world right now. It makes me so sad to think of all those kids posting those cruel messages to her online and chasing her down at school. So wrong.

    • Kaz says:

      Thank you so much, Jenna. And thanks for sharing your own thoughts when it comes to your little boy starting school next year. I totally agree with you about how sad Amanda’s story is. On the one hand it’s genuinely heartbreaking, but on the other… I can’t help but not be surprised. It *is* all too believable and common these days. It’s so important that we talk about these issues, and teach our children to be kind toward others and to help rather than persecute.

      Thanks again,


  8. Adele says:

    Thank you for your story and thank you for helping that little girl. As a former bullied and abused child it means so much when someone actually reaches out. I wish there were more like you around.

  9. joseph says:

    Thanks for giving us information about bullying and letting people know that bullying is not cool.

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