May is Anti-Bullying Month; and it has been embraced enthusiastically by the residents of the Canyon Cottage. For many of the children and youth that we serve, not only in the residential program, but also our community-based services, the trauma they have experienced has come not at the hands of adults, but from their peers. They have suffered from taunts and mean-spirited labeling for no other reason than their failure to comply with the expectations of others, which has left them distrustful and weary. The cycle of bullying leaves victims angry and insidiously internalizing how they have been defined.
Bullying is a national epidemic that, more often than we care to admit, leaves its victims emotionally vulnerable and suicidal. In an effort to counter the effects of bullying and give those affected by it a reason to hope that life will improve, organizations like Stand for the Silent have developed initiatives to assist those who have been bullied, to educate the community to become sensitive to its impact and to promote anti-bullying efforts.
Canyon Cottage residents have had a number of events this month to draw attention to this issue. Earlier in the month they encouraged everyone to wear very colorful clothing on one particular day as a way of indicating support of eliminating bullying in our communities. This week they will be sponsoring a bake sale to support the efforts of Stand for the Silent’s initiatives.
It always impresses me that we are doing something right when children and youth, traumatized by neglect and violence, are able to reject the mantle of victim and take on the role of advocate for themselves and others. This is exactly the kind of effective grassroots advocacy that has a lasting impact and hopefully brings about lasting change for all those involved.
I want to thank the staff who have been so dedicated to these residents and have helped them see beyond their fears and enable them to stand together, no longer silent, but rather strong, vocal and determined to make a difference. Thanks also to Canyon Cottage residents who have led the way with peers and staff alike to help us eliminate the effects of bullying among us.
Support us as we walk along with these young people on a journey that leads them to a restored self-esteem and a conviction that what they do makes a difference…together we are on a paththat creates lasting change.