School Bullying – Free Access Philly Short Story
I wrote a short story that was published on a free access internet zine. It’s a thinly-veiled personal childhood memoir of my most unpleasant years in a Philly parochial grade school. The story concerns severe school bullying and is meant to be a warning to parents about what their children might be hiding from them—and why.
Many years after the fact, I was astonished to learn that my reaction to my plight in school was not only not uncommon, but that over half (54% according to one study I read) of even severely bullied kids keep quiet about it. My story explains the reason why and offers an intimate look at a child’s emotions and thought processes while enduring bullying at school. The answer is provided in what I hope is a very poignant manner, unfolding with the first few pages of the story’s second half.
Childhood suicide due to bullying is still relatively rare, though not so rare as a generation ago or so when such was virtually unheard of. In reading of such tragedies, I noted how completely stunned were the children’s parents. They never saw it coming. Parents might be astonished to learn what accomplished child actors their kids have learned to become: how the instant smile appears on their faces the moment they enter the door after school; their pat answer of “Fine” when questioned as to how school went.
Although the story contains no sex, profanity or violence (of any consequence), some find its beginning to be disturbing. It was intended to be (as peripheral to the story's main thrust). I was (in part) trying to make a point of social commentary, which many picked up upon while others failed to understand. I elaborate on it in my author’s commentary, also available at my website. (Rest assured, the story was published on one of the most conservative publications on the internet: conservative in terms of what they will accept regarding moral considerations.)
My website offers nothing for sale (though I do review a superlative book on school bullying which I have absolutely no financial interest in or connection with), has no ads and does not solicit donations. On the contrary, I actually pay to promote the story and website as I’m very passionate about the subject of school bullying. If anyone would care to read the piece, here is its URL:
School Bullying and Tourette's Forum
The title of the story is "Pride's Prison." Thus far, the story has around 25,000 hits. I hope it does some good in saving even one child unnecessary misery, and perhaps his or her family a lifetime of grief around an empty seat at the dinner table.
Last edited by Don Schneider; 01-17-2011 at 05:59 PM.
As a follow-up to my last post, here is a URL for what I perceive to be the most effective (certainly the most poignant) anti-school bullying website on the internet:
Ryan's Story Presentation
Please read the introduction that John Halligan has written about Ryan, his late son, and reflect. The Halligan family lives in Vermont and is what might be termed the ideal family. Mr. Halligan was an executive with IBM while his wife was a stay at home mom until her children were old enough for her to return to work. They’re church going Irish-Catholics. If this could happen to them, it could happen to any family. The Halligans are and were ideal, loving parents involved in their children’s lives.
Nevertheless, like so many other cases of child suicide, they never saw it coming. They had known that Ryan had had bullying problems when he was younger, but as he aged into his middle school years (when typically the most severe school bullying occurs as kids’ egos begin to become more pronounced and they seek to enhance their own social status at the expense of other kids they perceive to be vulnerable), the boy stopped talking about it and would offer the pat response of “Fine” whenever his parents inquired about school. Therefore, they thought that the bullying problems were behind him. They had been tragically wrong.
When Mr. Halligan had been away on a business trip, Ryan took his own life at age thirteen (thirteen!). John Halligan was absolutely stunned.
In the wake of this tragedy, Mr. Halligan investigated online and spoke to some kids at Ryan’s school. He was incredulous as to what his son had been enduring and keeping quiet about. His case has generated tremendous publicity and John Halligan has appeared on several national television programs discussing his family’s tragedy.
He has become a leading anti-school bullying advocate and gives lectures throughout North America regarding the subject. The demand for his lectures increased to the point where he felt compelled to leave his position with IBM in order to speak throughout the school year. He’s a very fine man who will not allow bitterness (towards the school or the kids who had tormented his son) to destroy his family or himself. Instead, he seeks to spread light and hope to others by trying to spare them the profound sorrow his family must live with on a daily basis.
I have no association with John Halligan, but I would urge any reading here who are school administrators, teachers or PTA members to urge your schools to request his speaking services for the next school year before his schedule is filled. His lectures have been very well-received and he is much in demand. He has come to several schools in the Philadelphia area.
You can also read about his other related activities such as successfully lobbying for strict anti-school bullying state laws and policies in schools.
Although my post generated no replies, I just wanted to thank the forum for the numerous hits I have received at my website off of this post. (I have Google Analytics, an internet tracking service. Don’t worry. It doesn’t tell a website owner who you are, merely your city and state and some other information such as how a visitor found one’s site.) The curious thing is that none of these visitors are from Philadelphia or the area. Rather, they have been from all around the country and even world. I can only guess that former Philadelphians lurk and read here in order to keep up with local news and events.
Anyway, I just wanted to express my appreciation. I consider it a victory for bullied kids everywhere every time someone reads the story through. The piece offers an intimate look at how such kids feel in their private moments when striped of the façade they present to others. In this light, child suicides because of bullying are more comprehensible, and hopefully the story forewarns parents concerning complacency. Whenever a case has arisen of a child taking his or her own life over school bullying, almost invariably the parents’ reaction is shock. They had no idea. They never saw it coming. I believe them without reservation.
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