Make Room For The Stuttering

Making An Impact

Posted on: March 22, 2010

Monday was the second part of the 6-hour training on bullying prevention in the schools. Today’s session was more difficult, and I thought it would be easier because we knew the participants and had a feel for what they needed. In fact, it seemed their expectations were higher, which was why I felt it was more challenging today.

When we had time to do some small group discussion, it was apparent that many of the schools represented at these two training sessions don’t have solid anti-bullying programs in place. That is scary. Schools are stretched thin right now and budget cuts are on the block everywhere. Yet every educator in the room agreed that bullying is a big concern in the schools,especially the middle schools.

This group was looking for answers, resources and advice on how to implement consistent programming that will help kids who are bullied, those who bully, bystanders who watch and do nothing, and kids who bully who grow up to be adults who bully in the workplace. Big challenges, few resources!

One of the moments that had the most impact at today’s training was when Sarah, a parent, told her story to the group. Sarah works at my school and had told me earlier in the year about challenges she faced several years back when her son was bullied in his freshman year in high school. He was repeatedly taunted and physically abused in gym class and the lockers, with the teacher around, and nothing was done. Her son also did not tell his parents what was going on.

Sarah told her story and took questions. Events that happened six years ago were still fresh on this lady’s mind. She was emotional and choked up several times. She courageously told us what happened and how as a parent she worked for two long years to help implement anti-bullying policies in her district’s K-12 classes. Her school district had been exposed to little or no diversity, and her adopted son was targeted for looking different.

What lessons we learned today. What an inspiration this parent was. We all felt a sense of urgency regarding creating safe school environments when faced with teacher layoffs and having to do so much more with less.

It spoke to how vulnerable we all are, when we expose our differences. One teacher shared how she was bullied at her grade school for being the only African-American student. One teacher shared how frustrated he feels as a parent when he sees the TV shows his pre-teen daughters watch and love. Kids today watch characters that condone teasing and promote social exclusion.

I was reminded how alone I felt growing up as kid who stuttered in school and feeling that no one understood. We were reminded that every day there are kids who feel the same way for different,or maybe similar reasons.

I had been really nervous about doing a training this length. I knew there was no way I could “hope for fluency” or use avoidance or work hard to not stutter. I am glad I decided to be open and honest from the start, which allowed me to stutter freely and communicate comfortably and do my part in adding to such an important dialogue.

I felt really good that I put my fears aside and used part of my personal story to drive home some points about how bullying can no longer be viewed as just as a rite of passage that all kids must endure. We have to help kids feel connected and safe enough that they will come to us when teasing gets out of hand and it becomes bullying.

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2017.