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Friday, October 26, 2012

A Letter to the Parents of a Bullied Kid - Kim Purcell & a Giveaway

Today I have Kim Purcell, author of Trafficked here to speak out about bullying. Kim has also offered a signed copy of Trafficked to one lucky winner.

A Letter to the Parents of a Bullied Kid (From a Former Bullied Kid)


Another girl has killed herself because of being bullied at high school. Amanda Todd. I hear you, Amanda. I’m sorry. And I’m mad.


Every time I see a story about a kid being bullied and taking his or her own life, it makes me furious. I feel angry at the kids who bullied him or her, angry at the parents of those bullying kids, angry at the teachers who didn’t help, and angry at the parents of the bullied kid. It is preventable, folks. The adults in the kid's life can make a huge difference.


I thought about writing a Letter to My Teen Self or making one of those Internet videos about how I was bullied, to reassure kids that it gets better, and it does. But, you know, that really doesn’t help when you’re going through hell. In that moment, you think, yeah, maybe it got better for you, but it will never get better for me.


So, I want to write a letter to those parents out there who have a bullied kid and don’t know what to do. I get it. It’s confusing for parents. They love their kids. They think it’s a phase that will pass. They think it's not so bad. Sometimes they’re just too busy making ends meet that they don’t want to think about it.


When I was in eighth grade and all my friends turned on me, my mom did the very best thing: she let me stay home from school when I needed a break. She listened to me. She showed me she loved me and told me how special I was. Sending your kid off to the wolves every day is not the answer. It’s stressful and they won’t learn a single thing if they’re stressed or scared. Isn’t that the point of school? To learn?


Some people answer that you don’t learn anything by running away or they say life is filled with bullies and you've got to learn to face up to them. I disagree entirely. High school is not a mirror of life. In life, if you have mean people at your job, you can quit and get another job. In life, if your neighbor pushes you, you can call the cops. In life, if someone sends you rude text messages, you can get a restraining order. High school is not like life. For bullied kids, high school is like jail. If things are lousy, too bad, you’ve got to suffer through because you can’t escape.


So what’s a parent to do? I’m no expert. However, I do have some ideas as someone who was bullied and who’s worked with a lot of troubled teens, teaching them to write down the crap that has happened to them in a way that helps them find beauty in their pain. Here’s my take on what parents should do.


1. Listen to your kid. Really hear them. Repeat what he/she says without giving advice. Ask them what they want to do about the problem.


2. Get your kid in counseling immediately to get to the bottom of the issue. Your child may not be able to talk to you in an honest way, but they will be able to do it with a trained therapist. If your kid doesn’t want to go, too bad. This is one time you need to put your foot down. It’s a new thing, it’s scary, and you understand, but the kid has to go. Even better, the whole family should go. This way, you’re not isolating your kid as the one who has the problem. Often, kids who are bullied at school have difficulties at home too, so it’ll help everyone. Go to your doctor or the school counselor and get a referral. A great therapist can make all the difference.


3. The next step may be taking your kid out of the school and moving to another city or area of town. Once bullying starts at a school, it rarely gets better. Often putting your kid in another school will help, especially if it’s far away from the other school. If you can do it, homeschooling is a fabulous option. Kids often learn way more at home than they would in a stressful war zone, aka school.

4. Take away all the tools of bullies. Get your kid off Facebook and take away texting/Internet ability on the cell phone. Put the computer in the main room. It would have been good if they didn’t have unsupervised computer time in the first place, but don’t let them continue to be tortured online. And so they don’t feel this is a punishment, tell them why you’re doing it. Tell them you love them. Let them have a TV in their room and a video game system as a replacement, but cut off the outside harassment. Home needs to be a safe zone.


5. Talk to the parents of the kids who are doing it. Your child may not want you to call them, fearing it will make things worse, but your kid is like a battered spouse and doesn’t know what's best. This is why any abused person stays in a relationship – they are afraid to leave. When you face up to the bully, they often back off. In any case, the situation is already awful and informing the parents can make it better. The parents of the bullies need to make their children stop. If the parents don’t take you seriously, tell them you will go to the police and you’ll sue them if it doesn't stop. The very next time something happens, call the police. Get a lawyer. Show your kid you’ve got their back. Turn the tables on these bullies and their families who promote it. Harassment is against the law.


As adults, we need to stop acting like bullying is a right of passage. Amanda Todd, you’re right, bullying is not a right of passage, and adults, we need to act like adults and stop putting up with it. If your kid is suffering from bullying, you've got to show them you love them and tell them that it isn't their fault. Ever. And if your kid is the one who's being mean, you need to stop him or her immediately. That starts when they're two and goes all the way until they’re adults. We are all in charge of teaching and enforcing kindness. And modeling it too.


RIP, Amanda.

I only ask that you think before you speak and act. Ten years from now will you be happy with your actions and decisions?
Kim Purcell
is the young adult author of Trafficked, a novel about a seventeen-year-old girl from Eastern Europe who is forced to be a modern-day slave in America. Kim Purcell has worked as a reporter and teacher, but wanted to fictionalize the stories of real life, so began writing novels. When she’s not writing, she loves going for runs with her dog, hanging with her family and dancing in elevators to cheesy elevator music.

Find Kim
Website | Twitter @kimberlypurcell

Giveaway Rules:
One winner will receive a signed copy of TRAFFICKED
Winner must respond within 48 hours

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1 comment:

  1. This post and video broke my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this. I think that it's so great everything that you have posted on your blog this month to help spread awareness!


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