This was originally published through Anne Arundel First Alert
Children are dying and bullying is to blame. My name is Jillian Amodio and I am a mother of two. I had the honor of speaking before our board of education last week about the dire effects of bullying. As parents we are our child’s first line of defense. We need to be a bridge for communication and change.
We need to Speak up and be heard! Speaking in front of the board of education with regards to bullying prevention and parent involvement was truly empowering. Our children need us to stand up and the board needs to hear our concerns. The Board was incredibly receptive and understanding and genuinely sought to further understand the issues and seek appropriate solutions. As parents we are the most influential people in our children’s lives! Let’s use that effectively. We must stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Together we can be the voice of change.
Transcript “I speak today not as an enemy or aggressor, but rather an ally and a friend. I have lived in Anne Arundel County my entire life. I grew up in your school system. Bullying is the reason it took me nearly 28 years to know my worth and my value and it is the reason I don’t want this trend to continue. This year I began doing something I never thought I would do. I started homeschooling my second grader. I have withdrawn my daughter from two public schools in our county within the same school year due to unresolved bullying issues. She came home with bruises, scratches, and stab marks from pencils. But the physical representations of bullying are NOTHING compared to the damage I saw being done to her soul. She was continuously berated by a teacher. And she was threatened with gun violence by another student. I could go on, but her story is not unique, we all have one like it.
I was not allowed to know how these situations were being handled but I do know nothing changed. In fact it continued to get worse. School is not meant to be an anxiety inducing place of fear. A child cannot learn if they do not feel safe and secure. People need to be held accountable. Policies need to be in place to protect victims from being victimized over and over again. Current policies protect the aggressors more than the victims. Current policies do not work to address the underlying issues. The words spoken to our children become their inner voice and I refused to let my child’s inner voice become that of a bully. As a mom, it is not my job to simply protect my child, it is my job to protect all children and I will not stop until all of our children feel safe and loved. Children are not born cruel. There is something hurting deep inside the souls of these children who are harming others. All of our children deserve help, intervention, and meaningful guidance. I admire the programs being implemented in the high schools to help instill acceptance, although it is a sad reality that basic humanities must now be taught. However these types of programs must begin far sooner than high school. We must reach these impressionable minds sooner.
Our children are quite literally dying at the hands of this monster called bullying. Our children’s self esteem is crumbling under the unbearable burden of hatred that greets them in the hallways of the places where they are supposed to be most welcome.
I refuse to allow the lives of our children to be put at continuous risk by allowing them to endure behaviors day after day that should never be occurring in the first place. Science, math, language arts, health and phys ed…. These are all valuable areas of academic instruction. But nothing is more important than concerning ourselves with the mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing of our children. We must work together to empower and educate our children in the fine art of being kind and compassionate human beings. We must empower and educate our children to not stand silent in the face of violence, hatred, and injustice. If our children cannot learn to be kind and compassionate. Or love and respect each other, there is no hope for our future.
When we report bullying we are told things are handled but often times those assurances fall flat. There is power in conversation and parents need to be included in this dialogue. When the chain of communication is broken or falsified it is the end result that suffers.
My appeal to you today is to please help us help you make our schools the thriving place of love and learning that they are meant to be. Include us don’t discard us. Please let us work together to educate and inspire our children to be the people they are born to be.
Parents please guide your children and be the voice for those who need it.
The writer is Jillian Amodio, who recently spoke in front of the Board of Eduction regarding Bullying in schools. It can be viewed here