“Aghghghgh! Mommy Mommy! The lady bug BIT me!” my two-year old hysterically cried. I had to muffle my laughter as she ran to me for a comforting embrace. (And on that note pretty sure ladybugs don’t bite my love). Amidst my silenced chuckle, my thoughts wandered off to another place in time, like they often do when I am holding my sweet baby girl.
You see, she is growing into this tiny person, and I see glimpses of her future self during moments like these. These hurts… The fathomed ladybug “bites”… The inevitable insult of the word “No”… The squeals of the transgressions that her baby brother “touched” her. These things can all bring my daughter to convulsive tears. However, her tears bring me only sweet relief this is the depth of injury faced by my daughter. This I can handle.
But as I squeeze my daughter until her tears run dry, my thoughts race to ten years from now, and I see a future version of this moment with pain that is not so easily mended. A pain I fear I will be ill equipped to help my daughter through. And I wait with trepidation for the day I hold my sweet daughter because someone broke her heart or tore her spirit.
The bullying climate in schools, and the ability to spread pain like wildfire through social media, frightens me to my bones. It is hard enough to imagine my baby’s heart ever being hurt or broken. But to imagine her or ANY child ever being the intentional target of hatred for being themselves makes me shudder. To a child that is perceived different due to their gender identity or sexual orientation, repetitive bullying can have catastrophic and fatal consequences on the soul. Kids who are obese, gay, or have disabilities are up to 63% more likely to be bullied than other children.
I want to hug away the pain each of these children face and can only imagine how their mammas must feel to witness their child be the victim of pure hate. We live in an era where arsenal keyboards and voices are one of the greatest threats I perceive for our children’s futures. One MILLION children were harassed, threatened or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on FACEBOOK during the past year.
Today is the National Day of Silence. According to teacher Kim Collins, GSA (Gay Straight Alliances) sponsor at the Ann Richards School for Young Women Leaders in Austin ISD, “The Day of Silence is a quiet but powerful, student-led action to raise awareness about the silencing affect of anti-LGBT bullying, harassment and discrimination.” Day of Silence brings significance and awareness to the muted existence, social anxiety, decreased self-esteem, and even suicide, caused by bullying. It is estimated that 160,000 children miss school every day due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students. (Source: National Education Association.)
Equally important to appreciating the silencing affect of bullying is breaking the silence. Collins explains, “At the end of the day, students will gather in a common area and scream, yell, cry…all the frustations felt throughout the day and reaffirm their goals to stop bullying, harassment, and discrimination in their schools, communities, and cities.”
So today on this “Day of Silence,” listen with your hearts in support and recognition of a pain and silence that is being felt by our children. Then break the silence with your child, and use this time to challenge your children to discuss bullying’s sharp painful blade.
For more information about how you can support the Day of Silence as an Educator, Parent, Child, or empathetic human, please visit GSAFE.