Bullying In A Small Town

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Conversations about bullying aren’t easy anywhere but in small towns, they’re even more difficult to have…even taboo. In a small town, anonymity is tougher to preserve and conflicts are much harder to avoid when you are a target. In rural areas, kids don’t report bullying because they’re concerned not only about possible retaliation but also what it would mean for their social standing in the town. And in a place where “everybody knows everybody”, adults have the same concern for social repercussions.

In most cases, bullies are well connected in small towns and student confidentiality is next to extinct. I know this for a fact because when I was bullied, I lived in a rural area and any reports I made about the harassment always seemed to “leak” even though the school claimed to have an “open-door policy” and that any reports of any threats to my personal safety would be “kept private”.

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Bullying is never good anywhere but in small towns, it’s much worse and next to unavoidable. Because everybody knows everybody and has very tight connections, victims in these areas must tread lightly and only confide in those they are absolutely sure won’t make the matter the topic of lunch at the local cafe on the square or after-church gossip the following Sunday.

Even worse is that people in small towns never forget…about anything. They tend to hold on to grudges and hatred from high school and continue the harassment of a certain person even into adulthood. They may even unjustly label and target any children the victim has. Remember that everybody knows everybody and attacks from old bullies can continue and to follow a victim around possibly for the rest of their lives.

Sadly, when you are a victim of bullying in a small town, the best recourse is often just to move on to greener pastures. It’s what I did and I’m happier for it.

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Being Bullied Will Help You to Appreciate the Friends You Will Make Later in Life

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Though bullying is never good, there can be a silver lining to it. When a person has been mercilessly bullied in the past(in school, college, etc.), they know all too well what it is to be alone. It’s funny how the years go by and the tables turn. Thirty years ago, I was bullied by everyone…for everything . The closest thing I had to friends were only people who tolerated me. I can remember classmates whom had truckloads of friends and seeing them use these friends and even talk about them behind their back. These kids seemed to take their buddies for granted and I can recall questioning the unjustness of it all. God was preparing me for the awesome friends I would have later and knew that I deserved better than these kids…He knew that I deserved the kinds of girlfriends whom are well worth the wait!

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Today, I have the greatest of friends…true friends who love me for just being me…for my mind and my heart! For the good and the bad! You see? When you have been marginalized in the past, you’re less likely to take the people in your life for granted and are more able to appreciate the awesomeness they bring to your life…the love…the laughter…the fun…the joy of being together!

Another takeaway is that you are better able to empathize with others whom are hurting and going through tough times. You’ll more than likely be there for them when the chips are down, which will make you a friend to be cherished!

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The ’90’s: The Decade Before ‘The Great Decline’

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It was the last decade of pride, peace and prosperity…the decade before 9/11 changed life as we knew it and turned everything on it’s ear! The ’90’s was a time when the threat of being attacked on our own soil was only in movies like “Red Dawn”.

The ’90’s had many, many “lasts”…they were the last ten years of great and original movies, TV and music- before Hollywood and television production companies and producers ran out of ideas and reality shows and remakes dominated screens everywhere and music wasn’t yet painful to listen to. Also, commercial breaks had not yet grown to be ten minutes long.

During the ’90’s, one could freely express American pride and stepping on Old Glory was not only frowned upon but unheard of. People took pride in our great military and never ever thought of protesting the funerals of our fallen heroes. No one was afraid to uphold right over wrong.

The ’90’s was a decade when most people from different races got along together as one and spread love to one another…when jobs were plentiful and differences were not only accepted but respected. It was a time when no one took offense so easily to the slightest difference of thought or opinion and the news media reported incidences which were legitimately “newsworthy” and had not yet became one big high school slam book.

I’m not only saying this because it was the decade of my glorious and roaring 20’s but it seems once 9/11 occurred, our way of way took a nosedive.

Where did it all go? The pride? The confidence? The fearlessness? The prosperity? The respect for ourselves and our fellow man?

How did freedom of expression, differences in thought and opinion and common sense become such cardinal sins?

How did morals, values, integrity and decency all become such an antithesis?

How did individuality become demonized?

How did people become such crybabies?

How did self-entitlement become such a pandemic?

How did the pendulum swing so far to the opposite direction in only twenty years?

To this, I can only conclude that we, as Americans, have lost our nerve? We’ve gotten so afraid of offending that a few of our leaders have complacently handed over our cajones and are willing to let other countries and groups use us up and take us for granted! We allow certain groups to dictate whether we can fly our own flag. We, as a country have lost our backbone!

Will we ever have the stones to stand up and take it all back? It is my hope that we can catch the runaway horse and lock it back in the barn where it belongs! It is also my hope that in the future, we can have yet another great and prosperous decade!

Bullying and the Innate Fight or Flight Response

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Any time a person has been the object of relentless bullying over an extended period of time, that person comes to be in a constant state of high alert. Although useful in short, immediate circumstances, this hyper-vigilance can be unhealthy if the person remains in this state for too long, causing stomach issues, headaches, and fatigue among other many other ailments. Still worse, such a continuous feeling of being under threat can also cause the person to overreact in response to certain occurrences.

Every living creature has an innate and perfectly natural physiological reaction in the event of a threat or attack. Called the Fight or Flight Response, it protects us from harm in dangerous situations in part through the release of adrenaline. When adrenaline is released into the blood, it becomes next to impossible not to do either of two things- fight or flee.

When I was being bullied and abused during school, escape was not an option for me. Usually, I was cornered or surrounded, either backed into a wall or some large object. With flight cut off to me as an option, what did I have left? Fight! I lived on this adrenaline every day, all day long. Just being around my classmates put my body and mind on constant alert. It was a horrible way to live.

It was just plain terrible! Getting on the school bus and walking through the entrance to the school felt like a death march. In the afternoons, I had horrible headaches that triggered violent nausea. For so long, I had managed to keep from vomiting, but eventually my luck ran out. I recall an afternoon in English class when my mouth and eyes began to water. I swallowed hard to control my gag reflexes as I approached the teacher’s desk to ask to be excused to the bathroom.

“What do you want?” Mrs. Caraway asked rudely.
“I don’t feel good.” I replied.

Without a word, she gave me the hall pass and I scurried my way to the girls’ room, barely making it to the first stall before launching a stream of the bitterest, most horrible tasting green liquid into the toilet.

This was followed by a long series of dry heaves which were quite painful. Instead of making me feel better, the vomiting made me feel worse and my headache became next to unbearable.

I’ll never forget the sound of the bathroom door as it flung open and the teacher stormed in, demanding to know why I was taking so long. I began to cry and in between gags and wretches, pleaded with her to let me go to the office and call my grandmother.

She accused me of making myself vomit so I could go home early.

When you’re a bullied kid, even a few teachers, having heard the rumors and falsehoods being spread about you by your bullies, begin to bully you too. It’s a very lonely and heartbreaking position to be in.

As time went on, the fear of going to school and having to face my classmates grew in me. It was like an infected tumor getting bigger and bigger with each passing day. My stomach would draw up every morning when I set foot on that school bus. The next eight hours was like walking through a minefield, never knowing when my next step could mean BOOM! and I would be hit, shoved, kicked, or bombarded with a torrent of taunts, insults and names. It was a situation I saw no end to, and to say that I was afraid would be an understatement. I was petrified.

Most never think of the magnitude of fear the victim must live with or the health consequences of living in that perpetual state of fight or flight. And sadly, although the impact to the physical health of the victim may not show up right away, it may rear its ugly head later in life.

Many bullied victims get into serious trouble when the bullying finally escalates and becomes physical. Everyday, innocent targets are unjustly suspended or expelled from school because they were forced to fight to defend themselves. Bullies have a real flair for charming and seducing teachers and staff, lying very convincingly and making the target look like the aggressor and victims are often severely punished for nothing more than trying to protect themselves, while the bullies are either given a slap on the wrist or escape with complete impunity.

However, teachers and school should know well that, just like all God’s creatures, victims of bullying have the fight or flight instinct.

It’s only natural that if you corner a dog and kick it enough times, sooner or later, you’ll get bit!

Why Targets of Bullying Should be Proactive in Preserving Their Personhood

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Being bullied and being stuck with unnecessary labels can very easily cause a person to self-doubt. Not only does it cause one not to believe in his/herself and in one’s own abilities, but it can also enable that person to trust their own innate intuition if they let it. It blinds the target to people who are true as it completely zaps his/her senses of who is for real and who is fake, thus causing the loss of the ability to avoid dangerous people.

Bullying is a form of brainwashing. It is repeated, repetitious, and occurs over a long period of time. It reprograms the victim’s mind and convinces the person that he/she is nothing, blinding him to his own worth as a person, to her own inner and outer beauty, and to her own intelligence. The target comes to that dreadful place where she doesn’t trust her own ability to make good decisions. He fears that anything he does and/or says will be wrong. Therefore, he keeps his talents and gifts hidden from the world for fear of ridicule.

Self-doubt keeps the target paralyzed and they hide their true, awesome self. By trying to hide their authenticity from others for fear of negative judgment, victims unwittingly dumb themselves down and make foolish decisions.

Targets must avoid this at all costs.

Never lose yourself because of a bully. No matter how others may treat you, always take steps to keep your authenticity. If you have any talents or gifts, display them with pride. Do things that you enjoy and spend extra time with those who love you and lift you up. You will be surprised at how great you will feel about yourself. Therefore, bullying will have less of an impact on your self-esteem.

Writing with Feeling

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Anytime I write a novel, I make sure to write with feeling. What does this mean? It means getting into the minds of my characters; imagining what it would be like to be in their situations and under their circumstances, putting myself in my characters’ shoes. It means feeling their emotions, imagining their thoughts and reactions and seeing every detail through their eyes because if the author feels his/her characters’ emotions (happiness, anger, sadness, pain, excitement, etc.), the reader is likely to feel them too.

Expressing a characters’ emotions isn’t about just writing,

“So-and-so felt angry when she discovered that her husband of twenty years was cheating on her.”.

No. What it means is describing the jilted wife in terms such as,

“So-and-so’s eyes widened and she took two steps back when she discovered the red, thonged panties hidden in the top drawer of the nightstand on her husband’s side of the bed. Her cheeks flushed, her breath quickened and she begin trembling because she knew the panties did not belong to her! After twenty years of faithfulness, cooking, cleaning, and taking care of children, this was the thanks she received!”

For me, writing with feeling requires great detail and innuendo. It requires leading the reader on. It is a way of ensuring that the reader can relate to the characters and if the reader can somehow relate to the character, especially the protagonist, the more likely they are more likely to like the character(s)and crave more!

Isn’t this what all authors strive for?

Kathy Noll “Taking the Bully by The Horns”

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Good news for victims and survivors of bullying! Resources to help people who are bullied are everywhere today. I recently spoke with Kathy Noll, an author of “Taking the Bully by The Horns. Since the 1990’s she has worked tirelessly to reach out to young people whom are bullied. I very much admire her work.
Congratulations, Kathy!
Keep up the great work!

Here is a list of her awards and accolades!

1996-Present: In recognition of successful completion of the requisite Course of Study “Writing for Children and Teenagers” and on nomination by its faculty, Kathy Noll was awarded a diploma from the Institute of Children’s Literature where she studied for two years. She also received an award through the Writers’ International Forum for her work. Her short stories and articles have been published in magazines along with interviews.

She recently was awarded with the title of “Woman of the Year” from Glamour Magazine for “Changing a Child’s World for the Better.” She also received Toyota’s “Moving Forward” award. And in 2007, she was honored with commendations from The State Senator’s Office, The Mayor’s Office, and the Council of the City of Reading. In addition, Kathy received her school’s “Most Distinguished Alumni” award.

NBC news has worked with Kathy to monitor classrooms in Philadelphia for bullying behavior. She also has directly helped many children with their personal bullying issues through her books, online counseling, research, educational and family-related Internet chats, message board hosting, and website.

Kathy has spoken on numerous Radio and Television Shows discussing the topics of Bullying, School Violence, and Self-esteem. She also works as a consultant for various TV News & Talk Shows, and was recently asked to be the expert testimony for a new children’s literature infomercial through Buena Vista (Disney).

Writing “Taking the Bully by the Horns” has generated many letters of thanks from both adults and children. Students frequently ask permission to use her research-based information for their projects.

She has excelled in publishing and marketing her books–reaching people all over the globe–educating, inspiring, and empowering them. She has networked with many organizations, schools, anti-violence agencies, mental health professionals, anti-bullying advocates, and child educators both Nationally and Internationally.

“Taking the Bully by the Horns” has also been published in Croatia. The Ministry of Education placed the book in schools all over the country and is having great success with it.

Following up on the success of “Taking the Bully by the Horns,” a much-requested Bullying Workbook has been created by Kathy — “The EDA Workbook” — and she also recently collaborated on a new book for adults on Adult Bullies and Bullying in the Work Place entitled “101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life.”

http://www.kathynoll.com

Introducing Al Johnson from “Bullies Be Gone!”

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YOU’RE THE WEAK ONE

You’re the weak one, you’re a bully.
The weak one is definitely not me.
The bully is always the weak one, but your weakness, you can’t seem to clearly see. So, I’m going to try and shed a little light on your weak and inappropriate ways. Your weakness began on your very first bullying day.
Your false sense of power is not strength at all; it’s a cry for help desperately trying to break through.
I actually feel a little sorry for you.
Weak bullies like you always seek to find other kids they can dominate.
Bullies do this with vicious words, distasteful actions, and misguided hate.
Is being a weak bully the banner you want to carry for the rest of your life?
Get rid of the bully banner forever; create one that shows respect, understanding, and tolerance for others, and always proudly hold that one very high.

By Al Johnson,
Bullies Be Gone!

http://www.antibullyingexpert.com

The 2018 Author Interview Series Featuring Tina Frisco

Author Don Massenzio

It’s time for the next subject for my 2018 author interview series. Author interviews are posted every Friday throughout the year.

I am honored to continue this series with California author and blogger Tina Frisco.

You can catch up with all of my past author interviews (nearly 200) on my Author Directory page.

If you’re an author interested in being interviewed in this series, I still have limited spots available for 2018. You can email me at don@donmassenzio.com

Now, please enjoy this interview with Tina Frisco:


Tina 4aDo you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I aim to do both, because both are needed for books to sell. But I won’t compromise originality, so at times it becomes a bit of a juggling act. I write because I enjoy it and am compelled to so. Writing is my life’s blood. And like most writers…

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