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Supporting all those affected by bullying

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Awareness

Space Cadet – a true story

IMG_1782Space Cadet – that pretty much describes me when I was a schoolgirl.

In primary school I had friends, but kept to myself most of the time – preferring to move along the fringes and edges during recess and not getting too involved with anyone.

This intensified when I lost something at school and discovered two things:

1 – The lost and found was kept in a dingy room in a dark passage in a deserted part of the school, and

2 – The school janitor was a paedophile.

That triggered a full retreat into my own world – into my own mind.  This, by the way, was and still is a wonderful place to visit.

The idea to tell anyone didn’t even enter my mind…  Shows you how safe I felt…

In High School it was quickly discovered that paedophiles are everywhere.  The High School freak was a teacher who liked little boys.  We had a rifle-range at school.  After each session the freak would pick someone to help him put everything back in the ammo shed.  I have often wondered how many of my schoolmates entered that place little boys and left it shattered.

So to all those suicidal, emotionally crippled, deeply remorseful paedophiles out there, all I have to say is:  “Remember – it’s down the Road, not across the River” – Get it right, Freaks!!  I’ll even run you a hot bath!!

But I digress…..

Space Cadet remains an accurate description of me as a schoolgirl.  My state of mind was maintained by strict routine.  I never did things out of order.  It was – wake up, drink coffee, get dressed, make bed, eat breakfast, brush teeth, check school-bag, ready to go, arrive at school, put school bag in the correct row, dig into pocket for book currently being read, sit down somewhere out of the way, read.

I couldn’t, of course, read my book in class, so escaped into my own imagination – usually incorporating currently being read book into the images and daydreams.

The problem with being in dream world all the time is that you forget where you are altogether, and sometimes the happy thoughts spill over into a goofy grin, which isn’t always displayed at the appropriate moment.

I recall two such moments…..

I was in history class.  Mr Officious bully weirdo with moustache had his knickers in a knot about something or the other.  We didn’t do very well in the last test, or our behaviour just wasn’t good enough.  I am guessing – I really have no idea what he was crapping on about.

All I remember is being shocked into reality when his fist banged my desk.  Heart-attack time!  There was this huge red face with blazing eyes, flaring nostrils and quivering moustache right in front of mine.  Intimidating?  Not really, I was too busy preventing a heart-attack and wondering what he was on.  (And honestly, compared to my dad, he was a pussy.)  “Do you find it funny?”  “No sir”   And then blah blah blah blah (I was too busy thinking what a total jerk he was to pay attention to what he was saying).

The other time that I recall being caught with a goofy grin was in church.  The minister, an honest, trustworthy, decent human being, was being pushed out by the powerful members of the community.  You know the ones – they have money and like to have their interest looked after, their children promoted and everybody with a bit of say in the community firmly under their control.  Well, this bloke would have none of that, so he had to go.  And they won, as they do.

We were in church when he was giving his final sermon.  It was apparently scathing and he pretty much told everyone that they are on the road to hell.  Again, I am guessing, because I was there on body only.  My mind was off somewhere in another world.  No fists on desks this time – I was allowed to wallow in my reverie.  My mother were questioned, though, afterwards, by some or other busy body about why She was sitting there with a smile on her face while the minister was tearing strips off everyone.  But hey, let’s face it – why should I have felt chastised anyway – I was on his side.

So, what does all this mean – all this stuff I just wrote.  Does it have to mean anything?  It’s just a random recollection that found its way onto a page.

The Megan Meier Story

On this day, in 2006, Megan Meier was pronounced dead. A few days before she was found hanging in her closet by her mother.

The reason for her suicide?

Cyberbullying.

Megan thought that she was being wooed by a charming and attractive boy. She was happier than she had been in a long time. Then suddenly he turned nasty and within a few short hours she took her own life.

She was a few weeks away from celebrating her 14th birthday.

The truth behind this story is far more disturbing than you would ever be able to guess.

Watch here as her mother speaks about Megan and the circumstances leading up to her death and the discoveries that were made thereafter.

Tina Meier talks about Cyberbullying

Your can find out more about the Megan Meier Foundation here

For more, watch the CNN report here

Even 9 years on, her loss is undoubtedly still causing her parents, family and friends significant sadness.

Today we would like to say to them – Our hearts go out to you today and we will keep you in our thoughts. We are thankful that you so bravely share your story with the world, but wish more than anything that it never would have been necessary.

Dear Dad – (Anti-Bullying Short Film)

From the site post —

“Dear Dad is an emotional anti-bullying drama centered around the story of a thirteen year old boy named Tim.
The film conveys the distress and depression of protagonist Tim who is unable to communicate with a well-meaning but ineffectual counselor who cannot understand why Tim is unable to ask for support and guidance from his father. ‘Dear Dad’ portrays the abuse Tim receives alongside extracts from counseling sessions which compound his sense of loneliness, alienation and depression.
The films open with the statistic that almost 70% of people in the UK have suffered from bullying before depicting Tim’s experiences at the hands of his antagonists and the deterioration of his mental health.”

CREDITS:

Written/Directed/Edited by: James Hardy (Twitter – @james_hardy98 )
Co-Producer – Oscar Rhodes (Twitter – @OscarRhodes2 )

Sound Mix by Tom Viney
Production Assistant/BTS Photos – Declan Emery
Camera Assistant/1st AC – Oliver Whorwood
Set Photography by Declan Emery & Oliver Whorwood

1st Assistant Director – Oscar Rhodes
2nd Assistant Director – John Matthews (Twitter – @mooneyejohn )

Tim – John Matthews
Kyle – Oscar Rhodes
Other Bully – Oliver Whorwood
Mrs Jones – Julia Batchelor

NETWORKS:

MoonEyeFilms on Twitter – @mooneyefilms
MoonEyeFilms on Facebook – facebook.com/mooneyefilms

More information on the film can be found at http://www.mooneyefilms.com

They deserve a beating

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During the time my daughter was missing I sheltered myself from the careless, cruel and highly presumptive comments made on Facebook. I chose to skip past it and have since forgotten most of them.

There is one particular type of comment that was made after my daughter had been returned to me, which I cannot stop thinking about. It varied in wording, but conveyed the message – they deserve a beating.

Comments like those were often followed up with –

  • My dad used to beat me when I was a child.
  • I deserved it.
  • I turned out okay.
  • It did no harm.

I would urge anyone tempted to make a comment such as these to stop and think. Ask yourself how such a comment could be taken or acted upon – and what lessons are we teaching our children.

I did not beat my daughter. The thought of beating her never entered my mind. The idea of beating anyone is abhorrent to me. I personally never felt like I was ‘winning’ at parenting after giving my child a slap on the wrist or a smack on the bum.

But my concern goes deeper than that and it involves the subjectivity of the concept of beating someone. What is a beating? A slap? A punch? Several slaps and punches? Kicking? Hitting someone with a wooden spoon – a belt – a stick – an electric cord – a baseball bat – a metal pole? When does it go from ‘discipline’ to ‘abuse’? When does it become unacceptable?

I would suggest that the answer would vary depending on the life experiences of the individual and the culture in which they were raised. So when you post “they deserve a beating” your idea of what that means, I am willing to wager, will be widely misinterpreted.

How would you have felt if you read that my daughter had been assaulted by us, her parents? We could point to your comment and say – “hey, you encouraged us” – “we only took your advice”. And you would say – “that’s not what I meant”.

It’s just common sense, right? I wish it was.

I read news reports that depict heartbreaking stories of child abuse at the hands of parents who simply could not see that their actions were child abuse. They had themselves been subjected to or witnessed abuses far worse than the punishments they doled out, or they hold certain beliefs that encourage violence towards children.

There is a lot of projection that happens in public discourse – even though people acknowledge their own uniqueness they will also make pronouncements as if their experiences are comparable with everyone else’s.  It quite simply is not. Please remember that when you dispense advice to the public, especially when it involves what could be seen as an endorsement of violence.


What are we teaching our children? Violence isn’t always bad? There are circumstances under which violence is okay? I would say that violence is never okay. When a person is forced to act violently in order to protect themselves or someone else, is it a cause for celebration? I would say no. Many, if not most, would disagree.

I can think of two news items that depicted retaliations against bullies. One involved a child who snapped, picked up the bully and dumped him on his head. The other involved a bystander intervening and king hitting the bully. In both these cases the comments section was filled with praise. “He got was he deserved” being the over-riding consensus.

Did he? Maybe. But I cannot look at those videos without feeling sick. And sad.

One punch can kill. I do not want any of my children to be responsible for maiming or killing someone – even a nasty bully. The risks are too great and the consequences too devastating. Don’t get me wrong, I know the feeling of red-hot anger and the desire to hit someone. My question is – is it worth it?

If you see someone being assaulted, what is the best course of action? Hurting the bully? Or intervening and helping the person being bullied. I would say that achieving the latter without having to resort to the former is the best way to go.


We have laws in place (here in Australia) that do not include corporal punishment. You cannot receive a death sentence, no matter what you do. But in our homes, on our streets and in our school yards some of us  are exposed to violence – and society endorses it to some extent and excuses it under certain circumstances.

The point I’m trying to make is this. Even if you were beaten by your parents and you are okay. Even if you feel that you weren’t harmed. What kind of future do we want to build? A better one where we use non-violent means to resolve our problems? Or one that perpetuates the bad (and confusing) ideas of the past?

What do you think?

Silent witness

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The short story below speaks of a single event, but captures many aspects of being bullied. In particular, the passivity of witnesses. The victim is left feeling abandoned, exposed, unprotected – and this can be harder to bear than the physical pain inflicted by the bully.

Whenever we can, we should befriend the vulnerable, and protect them.

Do not be a silent witness to someone else’s torment – no matter who the bully is…


She stands in the doorway, feeling exposed. Her flimsy nightie too short and too sheer to offer any protection.

He towers over her. Shouting words – accusations, threats. She wonders if he feels powerful, strong, impressive, in front of his drinking buddy who watches from the shadows.

His words have long ago lost its meaning. True or made up or exaggerated. There would be no negotiation, no discussion, no explanation. Just this shouting and then, perhaps, almost certainly, the punishment.

She wishes he wasn’t there, to watch in silence. But more than that, she wishes she was wearing something else. The fine cloth, barely covering her bottom, provides little protection from those watching eyes, and even less from the blows to come.

And it does come. Frenzied, painful, humiliating.

Afterwards she crawls into her bed. She hides her face under the covers – ashamed of her tears.

Stifled sobs catch in her throat.

Her mother presses freshly cooked pikelets into her hand. Almost too hot to hold. The butter drips onto the sheet.

She holds it as the convulsions slowly ease and then bites into it. It is doughy and tasteless and, like the apathy that surrounds her, hard to swallow.


If you need help, please reach out to someone. There are links to helplines on our Find Help page.

If you wish to share your story, please email elsahowarth@gmail.com

The note

IMG_1545I have already written something about the event that inspired the creation of this website. (You can find it on the About page).

* * * * *

The moments after discovering that my daughter and her friend were gone are hard to describe. I mindlessly ran from room to room in the hope of finding them somewhere in the house. I ran outside and looked up and down the street. But I knew, in my gut, that it was in vain.

I called the police, my husband and Holly’s mother. I sent messages to my adult children. Hysteria was bubbling beneath the surface, kept at bay only by pacing, pacing, pacing.

I must have gone in and out of Emma’s empty room a dozen times, but it was only while I was talking to my husband on the phone when I noticed the piece of paper on her desk.

It was a note. It read:

Dear our loving family.

There’s nothing much to say but we have found that we don’t belong here and that we aren’t happy. It’s our time to go, has been for a while now. We want you to know that we love you heaps, with all our hearts but this life has become too hard to handle. We’ll miss you all so very much and we hope when you look up and see the shiny, sparkly stars, you’ll think of us. Your names have all been in graved in our hearts
~ love Emma and Holly ❤

Emma’s hand-writing, but not her words. The strangeness of it accentuated the initial shock of reading it.

At some point during my reading the note out loud, my husband broke down and we lost the connection. The police arrived and I ran out to their car with the note in my hand. I was a complete wreck. The girls were dead, I thought. We are going to find them, dead.

How does one describe that feeling? There are no words…

I found comfort in the calm, reasoned way in which the police dealt with the matter. As they prompted me to remember what was taken from Emma’s room, it started dawning on me that kids intent on killing themselves simply wouldn’t take so much stuff. As the day progressed the list got longer and longer. Most of Emma’s clothes, her make-up, nail polish, photos, ornaments, and jewellery had been taken. She packed like someone who was moving, not someone who was planning suicide.

It became clear to me that they had either been picked up by someone, or they couldn’t possibly be too far away.

The search began…

Strain (Anti-Bullying Silent Short Film)

I came across the film, Strain, on YouTube. It has a powerful and important message. It tells the story of a young girl who is subjected to bullying. As the violence escalates, she finds herself abandoned by her best friend and she slips deeper and deeper into depression. It is a very good production and well worth the time to watch – and share.

While I was watching it I thought how common it is for bullies to isolate their victim. Once there is no-one willing to stand up to them they are free to do almost anything without consequences.

It may take courage, but it is important not to be a passive bystander. Befriend the isolated child. Defend the victim. Speak up against the bullies.

If my sharing this here inspires just one person to act, it would have been worth it. That may well be one life changed, or one life saved.

If your are the victim of bullying, reach out to someone today. Go to our Find Help page here

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