Monday, April 30, 2012

Have you ever been bullied?

I would like to hear your story. You might play a role in a movement that is going to change the world.

Chances are, if you are over the age of thirty, only one in twenty of you had that misfortune. However, if you are a student today, most of you have experienced some form of bullying at one time in your life. You might be suffering right now.

I have been a strong advocate for anti-bullying for years. Part of my passion may stem from my own experiences, as the target of a ruthless bully. The other part is my strong sense of wrong and right. The fact is that no one has the right to abuse another human being- or any living creature, for that matter!

I had been planning to consult with the experts and put together a training program. The first will be for teachers, then one for parents and another for the students. These sessions will teach them how to recognize bullying behavior, the different types of bullying, the steps to take when they encounter this behavior, and resources they can call upon for help.

I knew that bullying was running rampant. In fact, I wrote a short handbook, ‘The Bullying Epidemic-the guide to arm you for the fight’ last year. I offer it free of charge on Amazon. However, it was only recently that I learned that, like an infectious disease, bullying has spread beyond the students. The people that we thought were protecting our children are becoming the perpetrators.

It was revealed in the heartbreaking story of Aiken, the ten year old, autistic boy who was tormented by his teacher and teacher’s aide. Suspecting that something was wrong, his frustrated father, Stuart Chaifetz, put a wire on Akian. He recorded the staff in Akian’s class at Horace Mann Elementary School in Cherry Hill, NJ. They were calling the child "a bastard," talking about vomiting that morning due to a hangover, and apparently teasing the autistic child to the point where he had a "half-hour meltdown." 

This is horrendous! It is unthinkable. However, it gets worse. Mr. Chaifetz said he has discovered that the teacher of his son's class, Kelly Altenburg, was moved to another school and not fired, while a teacher’s union official told Wednesday that Altenburg "basically was exonerated.” 

Mr. Chaifetz now has a website and a petition. 

It is unbearable to think that this is anything more than an isolated incident. Surely, the teachers are keeping an eye on things. If a teacher saw a child suffering at the hands of a bully, they would step in, right?

The sickening reality came to light last night. I was at my nephew’s birthday party. He just turned ten. There were about a dozen kids in attendance- ranging in age from five to 16. I brought up the topic of bullying and could not believe the overwhelming response. I asked them if they had heard the horrible story about the ten-year-old autistic boy who had been bullied by his teacher and aids. They all had a story. Most of them had experienced bullying at some point. One of them denied it, but later, his mother took me to the side and asked if he had shared...Apparently, he too, was a victim of bullying, but was reluctant to admit it. 

What chilled me to the bone was the common thread they all shared. They all agreed that their teachers ignore bullying behavior. None of these children believed that they would get help from a teacher.

This is an emergency,  people!

Education is the key!  Everyone needs to be educated. The teacher, the parents, and the students all need training. I am going to film a documentary. I am reaching out.  I need help from mental health professionals, religious leaders, students, teachers, parents, and anyone who wants to be part of the solution.

We are on the ground floor of something that is going to grow tall and change the world. Are you up for the challenge?

 You can contact me directly at anirishpatel (at) gmail (dot) com

1 comment:

  1. Bullying breaks my heart. I went through it when I was in school, but it was different then. No internet. Smaller classes. Now, it's like kids don't have a chance.

    I touched on this the other day in regards to what we are showing our kids. We tease, comment, pick on each other as adults...of course they are going to think it's okay to do it to their classmates.

    The internet seems to be all about tearing other people down. Especially stars (Adele being too fat, Justin Bieber being gay ect) We accept this sort of bullying, because these people are rich and in the public eye. But children can not differentiate.

    And to be honest, neither can I.

    It shouldn't be done.

    Thumper's mother told him if he can't say nice things don't say anything at all.

    Everyone should live by that and spread a little love.