Speaking Out Against Bullying

by Jennifer Lavoie

Jennifer Lavoie lives in Connecticut in the same city she grew up in. While growing up, she always wanted to be a writer or a teacher and briefly debated a career in marine biology. The only problem with that was she’s deathly afraid of deep water. Starting during a holiday season as temporary help, she worked in a bookstore for six years and made it all the way up to assistant manager before she left to take a job teaching. Jennifer has her bachelor’s degree in secondary English education and found a job in her town teaching middle school students. Along with another teacher and a handful of students, Jennifer started the first Gay-Straight Alliance at the school. She is also active in other student clubs and enjoys pairing students with books that make them love to read.
Andy Squared is her first novel.

Andy Squared – Coming in 2012
Seventeen-year-old twins, Andrew and Andrea Morris, have always been close. They share everything—from their friends to a room—and they both enjoy star positions on their high school’s soccer teams.  All’s right with the twins…or is it?

When new student Ryder Coltrane moves from Texas to their small New York town, he spins Andrew’s world upside down. All of Andrew’s past relationship troubles begin to make sense and his true feelings start to click into place after Ryder comes out to him. His friendship with Ryder turns secretively romantic, but secrets, they soon find out, are hard to keep. Once rumors start to fly, so-called friends turn on them, and the boys’ relationship turns into a bomb about to explode.  But Andrew never expected it would be his own twin, Andrea, holding a lighter to ignite it.


I am writing this post as a teacher.

I am also writing this post as the victim of bullying.

Once again my television is telling me that another teenager has taken her life because she was bullied. It doesn’t matter whether she is a lesbian or not. What matters is how senseless this tragedy is, and how preventable it can be. According to the news, as she lay in critical condition in the hospital, the bullying continued on her Facebook page. How can people be so cruel?

I’ve heard some adults say that “bullying is a right of passage” or that “kids will be kids.” But it’s wrong. No matter what way it is looked at, making another person feel inferior for ANY reason – be it their sexuality, gender, religion, ethnic background, clothing, hair color, whatever – is wrong. So very, very wrong.

My bullying started when I was in the eighth grade. In homeroom, every single morning, one of the guys who sat next to me spit on me. I don’t know what I did. It could have been my glasses. Maybe even my jeans (my family didn’t have much, and I wore KMart or Caldor’s brand clothing instead of Abercrombie, which was cult-like at the time). Could it have been my hair? I wondered if maybe I even smelled bad, though they never said that. I don’t remember one of my bullies’ names. And I don’t even remember the name of the teacher who watched, day by day, as this happened, and not once said a single word. My mother now asks me why I never told her. My response? “Because the teacher didn’t stop it, so I figured no one would help.”

I’ve told this story to my students, and I remind them whenever a bullying issue comes up. I will not tolerate any form of bullying in my classroom. I cannot stand by and watch one of my students being harassed by another student because I’ve been there. I know what it’s like to be made to feel inferior. And no one has the right to do that to another person. I truly feel my students pain when they tell me how they feel when it happens.

I’m proud to say I’ve seen changes. But it’s not enough. More adults need to take this stand as well. If you see kids harassing another kid who is visibly upset, please, step in and help them. Be the responsible person and get help for them. If someone you know is being bullied or you fear they might be, talk to them. Do something about it.

Kids look to adults for guidance. They look to us as role models. Maybe if we really push and take a stand against bullying, they will finally realize that it’s wrong and has serious, harmful side effects.

8 Responses to “Speaking Out Against Bullying”

  1. 1 bookgeek January 12, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    well done!


  2. 3 Laydin January 12, 2012 at 9:04 AM

    Wow Jennifer,
    Well spoken! As a fellow teacher I completely agree with you.


  3. 5 Reece January 12, 2012 at 4:34 PM

    I just wanted to say that if you intervene you can make a difference.

    I’m ashamed to say that when I was at school there was a girl I used to tease. I never ever physicly touched her but I did tease her. One day I was teasing her and she started to cry & ran off to a teacher. I was mortified that I had made her cry, I thought we were just having a laugh. Looking back though it was very one sided. I got taken aside by a teacher and she told me that the girl felt I was bullying her and was very upset. I was deeply ashamed of myself and still am to this day, I never meant to hurt her. I appologised, and by the time we left school, we were friends again. I’m not saying it’s the case for everybody – but sometimes all it takes is for the perpetrator to realise the impact they’re having.


    • 6 jenlavoie January 12, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      Thank you for sharing your story, Reece. It’s obvious that you were mature, because there are – sadly – not many kids who realize the impact they have. I wish all students could see the true impact they can have on someone’s life. I’m glad the two of you were able to become friends again.


  4. 7 Devlyn Sixtyseven January 13, 2012 at 7:13 AM

    Thankyou for writing this and for caring. The world would be a better place without bullying.


  5. 8 barbaraannwright January 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    I agree that bullying should be stopped. I think posts like this one send a message that the bullied are not alone. That’s so important because while a person is being bullied, that’s how they feel, like no one cares or understands. It’s so good of you to reach out.


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