SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT...

“Children, I said to her. For the first little while, they not exactly human, you don't find?”
Nalo Hopkinson

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Letters To A Bullied Girl


Cover via Amazon"Contempt allows the bully to justify his or her hateful behaviors because of the erroneous belief that they, the bullies, are superior to their victims. Contempt gives the bully a twisted permission slip to dehumanize."

Letters to a Bullied Girl by Olivia Gardner with Emily and Sarah Buder. Copyright 2008. Letters of encouragement written to a young woman who was bullied at school.  Softcover, 202 pgs. 978-0-06-54962 0

Olivia Gardner, a fifteen year old girl with epilepsy, was taunted, teased, and physically assaulted by other students after she had a seizure at school. Filled with dread and depressed she stopped attending school.  School officials seemed to have no idea how to protect Olivia.

Co-authors Sarah and Emily Budner saw Olivia's story on a local news show and wanted everyone to know that something positive could be done about bullying by the average person. They went to their school and asked if a letter writing campaign could be started on behalf of Olivia. It soon became clear that the public also wanted to participate in helping to boost Olivia’s spirit.  This book came into being as a result of their efforts.

The book is a compilation of letters and emails sent to Olivia by former bullies, the bullied, and those who stood by and silently watched others being bullied.  Letters from those who were bullied for looks, being different, for health reasons, by girls, and with violence show that unfortunately Olivia’s experience was not unique.
  
As the letters revealed, many people could relate to Olivia’s suffering. Their stories do indeed become messages of healing and hope, as the authors intended, for anyone who ever had to live through the torment and abuse perpetrated by bullies.

In her Foreward to the book, Barbara Coloroso, author of The Bully, Bullied, and the Bystander explains that "bullying is about contempt, not anger or conflict." Contempt is a feeling of disgusted revulsion or low opinion about a person or thing.  Contempt allows the bully to justify his or her hateful behaviors because of the erroneous belief that they the bullies are superior to their victims. Contempt gives the bully a twisted permission slip to dehumanize. The heartbreaking situation at Rutgers University last week in which one student secretly videotaped his roommate and streamed the video over the internet may be an example of contempt.

This book helped me to see that writing our individual stories can have a real and inspiring effect on others. I would highly recommend it for reading when one is feeling down or alone. 10-4-10

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