Get off the bully-cycle

victim of bullying, anti-bullying, bully proof, prevent bullying, bully prevention, bullying prevention, a way to stop bullying, end bullying, victims, empower victimsvictim of bullying, anti-bullying, bully proof, prevent bullying, bully prevention, bullying prevention, a way to stop bullying, end bullying, victims, empower victimsU.S. Rep. Patrick Kennedy of Rhode Island showed this week how to stop bullying. He refused to allow himself to be privately bullied by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin.

Bullies require victims who believe they deserve the bullying, and do not protest or get help. Bullies rely on victims silent consent to ride the bully-cycle.

Patrick Kennedy was none of those. He exposed private letters sent from the bishop asking him to stop receiving  communion because of Kennedy’s support of abortion rights, same-sex marriage and the ordination of women and married men as priests.

Tobin’s office said in a statement,  “Any previous correspondence or conversations between the Bishop and the congressman is still considered private at this time.”

Kennedy busted Tobin in the same way Martin Luther King Jr. busted the bullying of blacks in the south: he turned the cameras on it. The image of Selma Police Chief Bull Connor using a fire hose to intimidate peaceful voting rights protestors is a watershed moment.

The day I called out, “Stop that!”  and interrupted Mr. Penn’s seventh grade math class when Dana started his daily pestering regime was the last day of his bullying.

Speaking up empowered me. I made the teacher and other students aware of the situation. I refused to sit quietly any more and be victimized by his hitting, tapping, taking my school supplies, copying, and whispering while I was trying to learn.

The light of day exposed Dana. The same with the bishop. The media glare will inspire the bully to behave.

In school situations, the glare of the teacher can defuse bullying. Victims must be coached to speak up and stay within the glare of the teacher when they feel threatened. Schools must respond to students’ complaints and empower them to speak up and avoid bullying.

My mother coached me when I told her what was happening. “Have you told the teacher or spoken up?” she asked. In 1970, we didn’t have the term “bullying.”

“No,” I said. I was a compliant “good girl” who didn’t want to make trouble.

The day I yelled in the middle of a math lesson, “Stop that. Give me back my pencil,” was the day I found my voice and quit being a “good girl.” I got off the bully-cycle.

Thanks, Dana and Mom. Well behaved women rarely make history. My life has been a lot more interesting and productive since I found my voice.

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