“The bully never remembers, the outcast never forgets.”
Bullying related suicides are on the rise. Schools are becoming emotional war zones. Millions of kids are crying themselves to sleep every night, wondering why no matter how hard they try, they can’t seem to fit in. As you’re reading the words on this page, there’s a student somewhere, suffering and alone, their future in question. Cruelty can be currency to the young, and it’s running rampant in our schools, from the hallways and the cafeterias to the locker rooms and school buses. It’s perpetrated in a thousand ways, and now with the internet and smart phones, there’s no escape, not even when a child is in their own room at home.
I understand first-hand the reality of being the school outcast. From fifth grade through senior year of high school, I was shunned, abused and tormented by my peers simply for being different and refusing to conform to the rules of the cool crowd.
My story however has a happy ending. Not only did I survive those lonely years, but I would be blessed in my adulthood with the privilege of being able to turn all that pain into purpose. After my memoir PLEASE STOP LAUGHING AT ME… landed a spot on the New York Times Best-Seller list, I started receiving scores of emails and letters from students, parents, educators, and “Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse,” from across the country, thanking me for helping them and giving them hope.
I would be honored if you would bring me in to speak. I offer a comprehensive program for schools called; It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™ (INJJA). The program consists of age appropriate live presentations divided by grade, a faculty workshop, and evening parent/family seminar. I also offer an optional follow-up curriculum to keep the message of compassion and tolerance alive the rest of the school year.
I do keynotes and professional development break-out sessions for conferences, conventions and special events. Click here for details on my most requested presentations. Of course I can design a talk specifically for your needs, as well.
I speak at universities, too. Click here for more info!
It’s easiest if we chat via phone so I can get a better idea of what you’re looking for and we can take it from there.
Why I’m different from other anti-bullying speakers:
I’m a survivor turned activist and expert.
Imagine that you’re walking down the street and suddenly, you fall into this deep hole, and can’t find your way out. Two people pass by, hear your cries for help, and offer assistance: one is a respected academic who specializes in the geo-thermal dynamic of holes, wrote his doctoral thesis on escape routes, but has never actually been in a hole himself; the other is an ordinary person who fell into the very same hole you did the week before, found his way out, and is offering to crawl back down inside, take hold of your hand and guide you out the same way. Who would you choose to save you? I’m that ordinary person who can lead you home. While I support the valuable work of academics who have dedicated themselves to understanding bullying and its affects, and recognize their work as vital to the future of our children, what I do in schools is much different than those who utilize empirical data and case studies as the building blocks of their solutions strategies.
I offer an innovative, deeply personal approach to bullying and peer abuse – the human side that only someone who’s been alone, trapped inside that hole herself, shivering and afraid, can provide, and the subsequent perspective of survivor, who to this day, still copes with the aftermath of the abuse that she endured.
How many teachers, counselors, and administrators, are “Adult Survivors of Peer Abuse” that have never come to terms with the fact that they were bullied? What about the adults who were the bullies when they were students – those rare few who have the courage to admit it, and carry the burden of guilt every day? How many adult bullies work in the American school system now? These adults teach our children, but what are they teaching? What messages are they verbally and silently sending? It’s NOT Just Joking Around!™ is the only program that teaches and supports faculty and staff as they reconcile their own feelings about the issue. Even for adults, change comes from the inside out, not the outside in.
I work well with students because I understand that motivation for change must be found within, and supported by adults and classmates alike. Fueled by the insight and compassion that can only come from a survivor, I welcome the continued opportunity to help provide our youth an emotionally safe environment to learn. If they are afraid to come to school, and afraid at school and after school how can they possibly focus on their studies? A confident child is harder to bully, a compassionate child will not bully.