October is National Bullying Prevention Month. Some months ago I was at the hairdresser when a childhood classmate came in for an appointment; let’s just call her Chana. I had not seen Chana in many years. She recognized me and began to talk and share with the beautician how we had been friends and played together when we were young. She asked me if I remembered how much fun we had. I promptly replied, “No I do not. What I do remember is you being mean to me and you beating me up at your birthday party.” Of course she did not remember, but I remembered all kinds of details about that year of school! I remember how Chana picked on several people and instigated fights. I remember her lying, telling her grandmother that I called their house and swore on the phone. Really??!! Disrespect of others was as much a part of my personality when I was little and it is now. My mother would not have tolerated such behavior and honestly, I don’t think I knew many if any words to use. Okay, I am getting side tracked here. My point is that Chana was mean during that year, she was also dishonest. Thankfully I went to a different school after that year and I did not encounter school bullying anymore. At that time, I only had one older sibling at home and she would walk me home from school so that I would be safe. I do not remember so much the days she walked me home, but I do remember the two days she did not. One of those days was the first day I ended up running home from school in fear and torment. The second time was a day she couldn’t get there in time. She had a perfectly good reason, but I do not remember that either. I just remember running home in fear and torment again. The days of being bullied in school are long behind me. Well, that is unless you count a professor I had during my doctorate education. Yikes, he was quite the bully. Some would say he was just mean and controlling. I say he was a grown up bully. I tell you that, to make you aware that bullying can happen in many places and by those in various positions (management, administration, athletics/coaches, teachers, and so forth). Harassment… Bullying, same difference. Bullying can even happen in church! No, seriously, it really can happen in church. Just because children attend church does not mean they cannot be bullies. Yes, I am speaking of me. No, not as the bully. Let me just say, the movie Mean Girls was an understatement of how mean some girls can be. I am not sure you would label it bullying, but mean doesn’t do it justice. There were some girls that could write the meanest letters and say the most awful things about hair, teeth, body type, singing, cars, and everything else you can think of. They even made being smart seem like a crime. Jokes on them, I didn’t stop being the person I was; still smart and went on to get a doctorate degree and help kids like them stop being mean and kids experiencing the bullying feel better rather than bitter. Wednesday, October 10, 2012 is the National Bullying Prevention Unity Day Visit http://www.pacer.org/bullying/ for resources and information on preventing bullying. Visit http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/overview/index.html for resources and information on violence prevention. Watch episodes of Finley & Max. Ryan Hipp, local children’s author and illustrator have his characters come to life in TV episodes of Finley & Max. “Something Cool” Releasing October 12, 2012 - After an incident with the school bullies, a frustrated Finley looks to trade in his nerdy hobbies for something cool…but Max has other ideas. Visit http://www.ryanhipp.com/television/finley-max-episodes/ to see more teaching episodes of Finley & Max. Bullying prevention starts with you… It starts at home. It starts at school. It starts at church. It starts at work. It starts at your organization and in your activities.