Together we can stop bullying, by Alicia Michaels

Together we can stop bullying!

by Alicia Michaels

When I was a junior in high school, I came upon a boy in the hallway being bullied. He had special needs. The sad thing was, he did not even realize he was being made fun of. Everyone around him did, though, and it angered me to see it happening.
The other kids would make a game of it, telling this young man that a certain girl (usually one of the ‘popular’ set) wanted a hug. Because his disability left him unable to understand that they were joking, he would smile real wide and run toward said girl with his arms open. And he wasn’t taking no for an answer. This boy loved affection and was not going to leave the girl alone until he got his hug. The girl would run from him and scream for someone to get the ‘freak’ away from her, yet he had no idea that she was part of this cruel prank. He thought of it as a game and was having so much fun. Meanwhile, groups of kids would gather to point and laugh.
This was a normal occurrence in my school, and after seeing it happen a few times, I had finally had enough. See, watching this young man get laughed at and treated like a so-called ‘freak’ took me back to the years when going to school terrified me. Through elementary and middle school, I was the target of just about every cruel joke and prank you could think of. I was made fun of for being a straight A student, for being the last girl in my grade to need a bra and being very thin, for having crooked teeth (and, later, for having braces). I was kicked, pushed, punched, yelled at, threatened, and even had a chunk of my hair cut off with scissors.
In that moment, this young man’s degradation was my own, and I just couldn’t stand it any longer. Without hesitation, I walked up to the young man and hugged him as tight as I could. He stopped chasing the girl and went about his business. Then, in front of everybody, I blasted the popular kids; let them have it at the top of my lungs. I’ll admit, it probably wasn’t the best way to handle the situation. But being bullied for so long had made me angry and guarded. Being defensive and abrasive was my way of putting up an outer shell so that nothing could hurt me. It was my way of standing up.
 I definitely did not make any friends with the popular kids that day, but I didn’t care. I never was one to follow the crowd. Of course it happened again after that, but I often wonder if it’s because more people didn’t speak up. Even those who agreed with me, that believed they were cruel to do this to him, remained silent, standing by and watching without protest. That angered me about as much as watching the bullying.
I guess the point I’m trying to make, is that it takes more than one voice. It takes more than one person to take on the fight against bullying. To truly end this travesty, we must ALL take responsibility in some way. It doesn’t matter if you’ve never bullied anyone in your life, you are still accountable for your friends, your neighbors, your classmates. We have to hold each other responsible and say that we will not stand idly by and watch bullying happen. I wish with all my might that someone had stood up for me. My mother fought constantly with teacher and parents who just didn’t care. Maybe if some of my peers had stood up too, things could have been a lot better. As parents, teachers, friends … we must do more than just stand by and shake out heads.
Empathy and sympathy are great. But they aren’t enough. Action is needed and it starts with each of us as individuals. When I was a kid, no one took bullying seriously. It was always ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘they’re just kids’ or ‘it was just a harmless prank’. But now, our society is taking notice. Teens are taking their lives, children are afraid to ride the bus or walk down school hallways and we now know how toxic bullying can be. It is my hope that, as more awareness is spread, we will all pitch in to do our part in ending bullying for good.

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More from Alicia Michaels:

A Crimson Tree Publishing Series! 
*These books are New Adult and rated Young Adult Mature for mature content. 

The Bionics (Book 1) 
(New Adult or YA Mature) 

The year is 4010.
Nuclear war and the wasteful nature of humans have all but destroyed the United States. A new government regime rules the day with strict laws, rationed food, and careful control. When those injured in the nuclear blasts that rocked many of the nations largest cities are offered another chance by the Restoration Project, how could they refuse?
Little do they know that the robotic additions to their body will paint targets on their backs once the government decides that they are dangerous. At the forefront of the resistance is a girl with a bionic eye, Blythe Sol, who wants nothing more than to be a normal girl. Blythe has yet to realize that normal will never exist again for her, or anyone else.
The Revolution has begun…
All I ever wanted was to be a normal girl. I had dreams of joining the ranks of the Military Police and making my family proud. But the nuclear war that laid waste to our country destroyed any hope I had of being normal ever again. They took everything away from me, including my humanity. I am now half-human, half-machine, part of the never-ending freak show that is the Restoration Project.

They hate what they created and they fear us for being powerful.

And so they hunt us, destroying our lives so that they can bury what they built. What they don’t know is this: there is a Resistance out there and The Bionics aren’t going down without a fight.

Titanium (Book 2) 
(New Adult or YA Mature) 
We stand on the brink of a double rescue mission, a plan so foolhardy that even our bravest men are quaking inside with fear. Storm the capitol, free the prisoners, don’t get killed. It seems like a suicide mission, but not a single one of us has anything to lose.
In my past life, I was a scoundrel; a drug peddling street thug who cared nothing for anyone because I had no one to care for me. The nuclear blasts of 4006 reminded me of the value of life, and a girl with the saddest eyes I’ve ever gazed into gave me someone to care for. Now, as we embark on our most dangerous enterprise, I can only hope that we make it out alive and that those we have lost can be recovered.
Foolishness … fear … hope … These are the elements that threw our revolution into motion. As the momentum of the Resistance continues to build, we can only pray that hope continues grow larger than our fear.

Secrets (Book 3) 
(New Adult or YA Mature) 

Before The Resistance, my life was one of privilege and comfort. Before The Resistance, mine was a mindset of naiveté and blind trust in a broken and corrupt government. Before The Resistance, I’d never stood up or fought for anything in my life.

Now, there is everything to fight for and everything to lose. All for a glimmer of hope in our future. It may seem a small thing but with the smallest bit of hope, men have risen against their oppressors with fists raised, even when they knew they stared into the face of death. Now that I have found something to fight for, I can only hope that my past will not become a roadblock to my future and that the secrets I’ve kept from those whose trust I’ve gained will not come back to ruin the new life I’ve made. If they do, I fear that I will not only lose my place as part of the Resistance, but the heart of the girl I am slowly coming to love. 

About Alicia Michaels:

Ever since she first read books like Chronicles of Narnia or Goosebumps, Alicia has been a lover of mind-bending fiction. Wherever imagination takes her, she is more than happy to call that place her home. The mother of two and wife to an Army sergeant loves chocolate, coffee, and of course good books. When not writing, you can usually find her with her nose in a book, shopping for shoes and fabulous jewelry, or spending time with her loving family.