As always, the School’s Anti-Bullying and Mentoring Council (ABMC) played a leading role in co-ordinating Mill Hill’s involvement in National Anti-Bullying week. On Friday 22nd, pupils were able to come into School wearing their own clothes, just as long as they were blue, in order to reflect the physical and emotional damage caused by bullying. A number of ABMC members got involved in making and selling blue cakes and biscuits on the same day. The proceeds from both of these activities raised a four-figure sum that will be donated this year to Oxfam’s Typhoon Haiyan Philippines appeal.
Throughout the week, a wide range of pupils had taken part in a thought-provoking Chapel presentation seen by every member of the School. The Chapel service highlighted the poem that teenager Izzy Dix left behind before taking her own life in September 2013, used a short-piece of drama to raise awareness about the very real hurt that apparently harmless ‘name-calling’ can cause, showed pupils a YouTube clip entitled ‘To This Day’ by Shane Koyczan.
To express an opinion that the old saying that ‘Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ is in fact false and that the damage caused by words can last a lifetime and reminded pupils of the need not to suffer in silence but instead to tell someone if they are being unfairly or unkindly treated. This might involve telling friends or trusted adults at school but might also involve confiding in family members too – the poem ‘My Mom and Me’ by Andrea Wilson was read aloud to show the relief that victims sometimes feel through confiding in a loved one:
It used to be I’d hop out of bed, So eager to start my day. But times have changed. I ask my mom, “Can I stay home from school today?”
I find a lot of grounds, to justify my stance. I plead, I beg, I frown, I do a little dance.
“My ears, they ache. My tummy’s sore.” I blow my nose and cough some more.
“What are these spots upon my chest?” I wheeze. I sneeze. I do my best.
My Mom sits down beside my bed. “You are not sick.” I turn bright red.
I know she hates it when I lie. She’d understand if she knew why.
So should I tell her of my woes? And will it change things if she knows?
I fear she’ll only make things worse. If I don’t tell her, I think I’ll burst.
And so I tell her of the clique. The girls who say that I’m a “geek”.
I tell of giggles, the whispers, the rumours. I talk of their spite, and their cruel sense of humor.
And …It feels so good to vent, although it’s so private. I talk and talk. My Mom’s very quiet.
She says to me gently, “I’m terribly sorry.” We hug and we cry. We go over my story.
Together we look at the things we can do. I’m no longer alone; we have a plan too.
I think I can face being teased and harassed. With Mom on my side, my power is vast.
A final prayer then closed the Chapel presentation:
Dear Lord, we know that you have given us the freedom to choose.
We can choose whether to treat others with kindness and respect or to scorn, bully and abuse them.
Help us to choose rightly. Help us to recognise the divine image in each one of us, however different we may be as individuals.
Help us to resist the pressures of others who want us to join them in making someone a victim of their cruelty.
Help us to know that in hurting others we are harming our better selves and hurting you.