The Stigma of her despair

Stigma deprives so many suffering youths and adults from getting proper treatment. There is treatment and there IS recovery.

Stop the Stigma

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The stigma of her despair

She struggled every day at school

dragging her feet there anyway

life at home was not so cool

she rarely talked to anyone

at school they called her emo

she always dressed the same

black shirt, black jeans without a logo

a long black trench coat too

all clothes she got at Sally Ann

she died her hair jet black

painted her nails and lips

black with hints of maroon red

to match colour of  blood,

it looked like her uniform

a suit of raw despair

because no one did care.

she tried to ask for help

saying she felt so sad

whenever she couldn’t stand

the pain, she chose to hurt herself

then students saw her marks

and bullied her some more

the teacher called her parents

so she could seek some help

but they screamed with such fury

for shaming the family.

And…

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Bad guys never win

Jean Beliveau

The bell rang and Tina rang as fast as she could to her locker, grabbed her coat and got on her bike. She could hear Barb and her friends whispering, “Hurry up, let’s get her.” They trailed behind on their bikes but fortunately Tina was taller than all of them, longer legs and bigger bike. She was a good 5 blocks ahead. Tina looked over her shoulder and knew she wouldn’t have to go in hiding, she’d lose them quick enough once she got to the foot bridge. None of them lived near there and they didn’t know all the shortcuts behind the church.

Safe, this time but what about all the other days. She’d have to tell someone sooner or later, she couldn’d stand this. For the past 5 weeks four of her peers at school had heard of a rumour spreading about her father. That was Barb with her big mouth and distorted stories. But the students believed and and Tina was so ashamed. Rumour was that her father was a “drunk and robber”. She looked at her nails in disgust. She had none left, she had started chewing the skin now she was so nervous. What could she do to stop those girls from chasing her and yelling, “Your daddy’s a drunk and a robber. You’re a loser , loser, loser!!”

She dug into her school back to get out a sheet her teacher gave all the student to have signed by parents. She didn’t remember what it was. She hadn’t been listening much, she was too distracted now. She was always daydreaming so she wouldn’t have to think all the time.

Later that night her mother gave her the signed permission slip, kissed her on the cheek and said, “Good luck, darling. I hope you win.” “Huh?” Tina looked perflexed.

“The permission if you are chosen to spend an afternoon with Jean Beliveau of Les Canadiens de Montréal and you get to meet the entire team.”  How could she not have heard this…OMG, Jean Beliveau was her hero!! He was the gentleman of all gentlemen in hockey!

The next day, the teacher announced that she had all the permission slips. The teacher was to choose one student and put it in fishbowl with the other classes of the school. They had to wait until the end of the day 10 mintues before the bell rang.

At the 3:30 p.m. there was an announcement on the speaker, “The runner ups have all been submitted…and the winner is…Tina Gagnon.” Tina could not believe it. She looked up at her teacher…her bullies gave her looks with daggers but the rest of the class clapped their hands. Tina`s cheeks turned red. Her teacher asked her and the 4 students who had been bullying her to stay in after the bell. OMG, now what, Tina thought. Her belly was churning and she thought she was going to throw up.

The classroom was so quiet, you could hear a pin drop. Mrs. Grant leaned on the front of her desk and looked at each child. Tina had no clue what was going on.

“I know you are wondering why I asked you all to stay. I received a disturbing phone call from the ticket master at the train station two weeks ago.” Tina gulped. This was her hiding place when the bullies caught up to her. She would stop at the train station that was half way home, run into the washroom and lock the door and pray and wait and pray for the bullies to get tired and leave. She had been doing this for a month now.

Mrs. continued. “Monsieur Castonguay said he was concerned about 4 girls who were chasing a certain student here and yelling curse names and chanting things about her father. Do you know anything about this, girls?” The four culprits lowered their heads in shame. Tina just managed to blush…it seemed the only thing she could manage at this point.

“After he called I asked a student from another class to follow Tina and see who was chasing her. You see monsieur knew Tina very well and asked her what the problem was but she refused to name her assailants. She even begged him not to tell her mother or the school. Now that is pretty darn brave and nice of her don`t you think? So my other student came back with a report after following Tina and her “chasers” for two weeks and gave me the names of each student.

Now, I know who you all are and you know what? I am not going to tell your parents THIS TIME. I chose Tina`s name to be put in the runner ups to see monsieur Jean Belliveau because she deserves this treat. And that will be a lesson to all of you, that being mean and vindictive to anyone NEVER pays. Have I been understood?”

All four heads bobbed eagerly and Tina was no longer blushing but had the most radiant smile as she puffed out her chest and stared at her teacher.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/03/29

Written for: Tale Weaver’s Prompt # 1 – Reality, Meet My Fiction  March 27, 2014 by

Words hurt!

bullying-hurts-any-child.jpg

National Bullying Week passed 3 weeks ago but the issues are still alive unfortunately.  Every day is a time to create more awareness of what goes on month after month, year after year especially with children, youths and young adults in school, high school, college and university. We know it goes on at work as well.  If it is not addressed in schools, why wouldn’t it continue at work?  Right?

Sexting, cyberbullying, bullying and making a youth`s life a living hell is NOT  what being  a youth is all about. Students, parents, school staff, bus drivers, cafeteria employees, janitors, daycare workers, school principal, school counsellors, school nurses…we are ALL in this together.  It is systemic and each person is part of that fabulous puzzle.

I know I wrote about this on my blog Stop the Stigma, but it merits to be repeated; sorry to those who read, heard it and are doing something about this…just click on to another fabulous post on WordPress {smiles}.

–  Please,  do not forward any email or social network posts, that can hurt another person, even if you think it’s funny at the time.  Just ask yourself, “How would I feel if this was shared?” BEFORE clicking share.

–  Always pause and think before you post and click “enter”.

–  Adjust your settings so you have to actually point your mouse on “reply” rather than just “enter”. That can save YOU and another person lots of grief.  This is good advice to adults too by the way.  How many times have you accidentally hit the enter button by accident?  I have clicked it by mistake and half my message went through before I was actually finished.  So lesson learned, right?

–  Always report cyberbullying to network administrators.

–  If you see any sexting (photos  of a sexual nature etc.) forward to http://www.cybertips.ca to prevent the spread of child pornography. Did you know that even if the person is a teenager, spreading any photos of a sexual nature is STILL considered Child Pornography. Do you want your teen to be involved with this? I didn’t think so {smiles}

–  If you are a Bystander / Witness to cyber-bullying, take a stand.

–  If you click “like” or “share” you are actually part of the problem and only perpetuating the bullying.   So think TWICE before clicking.

–  Even adults can report. I reported a few times to Facebook for “hate comments” , “racist” and pages that use the “R” word on public pages as a joke.  If you see something that is offensive, try not just ignore it…report it.

–  Parents,  kindly sit down with your children/teens and show them how to remain safe from predators but also how to be respectful and learn on-line courtesy.  Granted your teens will probably NOT want to have this little causerie (discourse). Check the links below and have them check it out. Better still ask them to come up with at least 2 or 3 sites that offer advice on internet safety. What Teens Need to Know by PrevNet (the Guru of bullying training, they trained counsellors at Kids Help Phone, work with the Red Cross and Scouts Canada)…have a great page on this.

Here is my humble attempt of saying this in rhymes.

Don’t click share
If you care,
Think before you click
on ANY of those pics
Clicking LIKE is very serious
Clicking SHARE spreads like a virus.
Sometimes silence,
translates compliance
If it’s cruel don’t add to the pain
by clicking SHARE again and again.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, December 8, 2013

 

© Cheryl-Lynn, November 15, 2013

Important links:

Kids Help Phone

Prevnet

Cybertips

Diamond Jubilee Medal – Addendum

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At the reception with all those fancy shmancy people (corporate donors, upper management), regional directors along with  counsellors, colleagues and volunteers, I was feeling pretty calm.  I was allowed a guest, so I had invited a long time, former colleague and friend, Kelly, who I had not seen in years!  I was pleased to have  her “witness” this moment with me. It was also great to have my best friend and colleague, Maria,  receive this honour with me too!  There could not be a more perfect evening than this!…until…

It was especially wonderful getting to talk to a volunteer who also was recipient for this honorable award. How she touched my heart!  Her daughter had been bullied A LOT and she had taken her life!  I felt an imaginary boxing glove sock it to me right in the solar plexus and then tears started filling my eyes. I remember the series of suicides in that area of the country 2+ years ago. It had impacted me the most in my entire career working on this youth line.  What struck me were the stories shared in the media and how I had recognized one youth as a teen to whom I had spoken…I felt so guilty and powerless.

Now here I was facing this amazing woman, grief-stricken mother,  and volunteer who goes to schools to talk about bullying and spread the word to get help and not take your life.  I told her I remember speaking to a girl at that time and how sad I had felt.   She just smiled and tried to comfort ME!  She kept thanking me for doing the wonderful work that we do on this youth line.

This wonderful woman…this amazing soul, mother, angel of grace deserved this medal more than she can ever know!  She has shared her story month after month…she has spread the word that our youth line is an option and she has saved so many youths from taking their lives…so much more than she will ever know.  How fitting that SHE received such an honour…The Great Spirit has created some amazing angels of mercy …Pam, this amazing woman and her daughter, Jenna who continues to be a part of that important message…Don’t ever give up…there is help.

And so when I received this medal, I opened the box and looked at the medal and tears welled up again. I noticed how it resembled my step-father’s medal he received from the army for having fought in World War II.  And I…an ordinary person like me who did nothing extraordinary was holding this medal in my hand now!  How my step-father and Mom would have been proud of me today!

My thoughts went back to Pam and her extraordinary courage for sharing her story with youths day after day despite the pain it must bring to her.  How I feel honoured and thankful to have met this woman. For over 2 years I have carried this guilt and fear whenever I get a similar call nowadays.  I had not realized how much I had been moved by this tragedy.

If it had not been for my having this opportunity to go up to Toronto, thank you Kathy, to receive this medal…thank you Kids Help Phone, I would never had met this outstanding person, Pam…I accept this Diamond Jubilee medal in honour of  your Jenna.  Thank you!

http://tech.ca.msn.com/mom-believes-bullying-pushed-teen-to-suicide

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, June 6, 2013

A tragic loss…

Tragic loss in 2013


Another soul destroyed, another heart broken and alas, a life is lost. Rehtaeh Parsons took her life this week… The tragedy in Nova Scotia has surely hit the hearts of most people in the country and with the media as well as all over the world.  My heart goes out to the Parsons’family and the community.  I have no doubt that everywhere,  mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, youths and adults all grieve this terrible loss.

http://news.nationalpost.com/2013/04/09/mother-launches-facebook-attack-against-those-she-blames-for-teen-daughters-suicide/

I think of the students at school and the mixed emotions that fill them.  How do they handle this?  A tragic death…a person living with so much despair, takes her life not knowing what else to do to ease the plague that besieged her…the hell she must have been living.

Everyone is impacted by this tragedy and as a society we are all implicated in some way…how do we react to sexual assault?   Not enough legal proof?  Okay, so why do we as a society look for ONLY authorities to weigh this?  As parents, as part of the community, as schools, as friends of friends of friends who know what happened…why can’t we try to teach our youths?  What about those who taunt, tease and harass to the point of pushing a person to utter despair?  How can we teach these persons that this type of “bullying” is pure torture they are enforcing on a peer?

I am not just talking about consequences; many youths  will be living with a huge burden the rest of their lives that I would not wish on anyone…ever.  I am talking about how do we respond to our youths’ who are exploring life but still need guidance?  How do we teach them right from wrong so they can “get it”…the moral and ethical meaning?  How do we help them tap into their consciences/soul  and act with respect and concern for others?

Grief brings up lots of difficult emotions such as shock, denial, sadness, anger, guilt, confusion to name a few but I think anger is one that is quick to follow a person around and swaddle their mind, squeeze their heart and fill their soul.  Some will be lashing out at anyone or anything as one tries to come to terms with what they are dealing … a tragic loss.  Sometimes anger is easier to endure…it is loud and active. It is letting out the pain rather than drowning in sorrow.   In order to put aside feelings of powerlessness,  better to feel the energy (although negative) of anger.  And so for many teenager-depression_girlpersons,  anger will be their ally …it may be their way of trying to drudge through this long difficult grieving journey, jumping hoops to avoid the pain of sadness and guilt.

My heart and prayers go out to the family and to  those inflicted with this terrible unrest.

If you know of a youth who needs help…let him/her know there IS help…reach out to this person, offer your ear, call a trusted adult to help him/her…if in doubt…call Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or check their website http://kidshelpphone.ca   http://jeunessejecoute.ca for information; they offer counselling on Live Chat as well and you can even download their App Always There /Toujours a l’Ecoute.  Sometimes it can be easier to talk to a professional in an anonymous setting…it’s a start.

Remember that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary (however long that may appear or feel) problem.  There is help…