October is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and I am honored to be part of Authors Against Bullying, a multi-author blog blitz promoting anti-bullying and honoring the memory of Amanda Todd, the 15-year-old Canadian girl who took her life last week after enduring years of stalking, cyber-bullying and physical assault.

Many authors have embraced social media as a way to connect with readers and promote their books, but we also use it to connect with family, friends and fellow writers. With so many positive aspects, it saddens me to know it’s also become a vehicle for bullying.

There were bullies when I was a child, of course there were, but that was in the days before computers. Back then everyone knew who the bullies were because they couldn’t hide behind avatars and screen names, and that made them easier to avoid. Times have changed, and so have the bullies, and the true identities of some new-age bullies take many by surprise.

I wish I had a solution or even some insight into solving this problem that appears to be on the rise, but all I have is an opinion. Anti-bullying begins at home and it’s up to families…parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins…to lead by example.

As a parent, I didn’t set out to teach anti-bullying. I wanted my kids to know it’s possible to be confident without being overbearing, caring without being selfless. I wanted them take ownership of the decisions they made, and when they made a mistake…we all do, after all…to apologize and try to make it right. Basically I wanted them to be good people. I took for granted that my kids wouldn’t be schoolyard bullies, and the truth is that good people don’t become bullies.

One of my proudest moments as a parent happened several years after my daughter graduated from high school. I ran into her grade five teacher, who made a point of telling me how much she enjoyed having my girl in her class all those years ago. One child in the class had a lot of challenges and was at times bullied by her classmates.

I didn’t know this at the time, but the teacher said my daughter always rushed to that child’s defence. The teacher didn’t tolerate the bullying, but she also believed that having a peer set an example was more effective than having the teacher try to enforce one.

So although I don’t have any answers, I still believe anti-bullying begins at home. Parents today have a harder job than I did because many of their children’s social interactions take place on the internet rather than face to face at school or in the playground. But in the end, it all comes down to the same thing…the desire to raise good people. Yes, parents need to step up, but I’m not sure it’s possible for them to do it alone. The rest of us need to be right there with them…every step of the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on bullying and anti-bullying…past, present and future.  I would also love to send a copy of my latest book, The Daddy Project, to one of you. It’s a story about two single parents struggling to raise good people, so I think it’s quite fitting.

And I invite you to visit the other authors taking part in Authors Against Bullying. Here are the links to their blogs.

I want to believe that together we can make a difference, and I’ll hope you’ll join us.

Until next time,

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