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The effects of bullying can last a lifetime. I’ve blogged many times about bullying before because it makes me so incredibly upset and angry. I’ve been fortunate that (so far) neither of my kids has been bullied, nor have I been, but I am very passionate about the issue.
So when Lori Orlinsky shared with me her personal story of how she was bullied as a child, it broke my heart.
Lori endured verbal bullying and was continually excluded, mocked and humiliated by her peers at school. But she is using her experience of being bullied as a child to call attention to the problem of bullying in schools and teach children, parents, and teachers about the effects of bullying. When her daughter was teased at school for being short, Lori wrote a children’s book to help improve her daughter’s self-esteem.
Lori shared with me an open letter she wrote to her childhood bullies and has asked us to publish the letter here so that others can feel some of the long term effects of bullying.
While Lori is turning her upsetting bullying memories into positive action, when you read this letter, you can hear how hurt she was as a child and how vivid and real those memories still are so many years later.
Here is Lori’s open letter to her childhood bullies…
By Lori Orlinsky
Dear Childhood Bullies (all of you):
I’m all grown up, and despite your best efforts to break me, I came out on the other side.
My maiden name was Geller. You were relentless in calling me “Geller Smeller,” and thought it was the funniest thing. What you didn’t realize is that I really thought I smelled. I had my mom buy deodorant and body spray for me when I was in second grade. SECOND GRADE.
Do you remember the time at overnight camp when I was asleep and you tickled me with a feather so I smeared black makeup all over myself? My counsellor asked me to keep the makeup on my face so she could report the behavior. So I had to walk around with your prank on my face all morning. ALL MORNING.
I’ll never forget the 6th grade dance when you asked me to be your date. I was so excited! I got a new dress from the Limited Too. But when I got to the dance, you laughed at me, because to you, asking me to be your date was just a joke. JUST A JOKE.
I remember the all district 8th grade pool party to celebrate the end of middle school. I was so excited to wear a two piece. I had done situps and walked around the block everyday so it would look flattering on me. You pointed at me and called me a beach whale, and then taunted me with the 800 number to Jenny Craig. All of my excitement about a day I had been looking forward to was crushed in an instant. IN AN INSTANT.
Quite possibly one of the worst moments of my life, you should have known better – a teacher. You thought it would be funny to play a game where we answered prompts anonymously and you read them out loud. The questions ranged from “who would you want to date in this class” to “who is the best dresser.” But when it came time to “who would you want to punch,” I sat in horror as my name was read over and over again. OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
I still have nightmares about being a freshman in high school. I am constantly taken back to the time in gym class where the teacher measured our body fat with an arm gripper. A few of you overheard my body fat percentage, and stopped calling me Lori. Instead, I was known only by that humiliating number. THAT HUMILIATING NUMBER.
As I said, I’m all grown up now. You may have broken my confidence as a child and teenager, but you didn’t break me. My parents told me that I was smart, beautiful and deserving, and that’s what I tell my own daughters now.
In a world filled with bullies, I’m raising them to choose kind, unlike the child you were.
When my daughter was in preschool, she was teased for being the shortest child in her class. Knowing full well the impact bullying could have on one’s life, I drew from my own experience and wrote a children’s book “Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All)” to illustrate to her the benefits of being short. The book has important messages of self-acceptance, self-confidence and bullying prevention that everyone should hear, even you.
I truly hope you have changed, especially if you are a parent. Life is too short to spread evil. If I see you around, I won’t be nasty to you. Instead, I’ll kill you with kindness.
The Effects of Bullying
Kids don’t forget the words of bullies. Each of those taunts digs deep and can damage their self-confidence for years to come.
As parents, we must take bullying seriously. We must talk to our children about both sides of the issue and do everything we can to stop bullying as well as watch and recognize if our own children are being bullied or bullying someone else.
The effects of bullying can be long-lasting for victims including fear and anxiety, depression and thoughts of suicide.
Lori Orlinsky is a multi award-winning children’s book author, freelance writer and marketing director who lives in Chicago. She is certified by the CDC in Bullying Prevention and Response Training, and is an ambassador for the PACER’s National Bullying Center. Lori is the mother of two little ladies who are small but mighty. Her children’s picture book Being Small (Isn’t So Bad After All), is available on Amazon, and at 5″1, she wishes it was around when she was growing up.
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