IMG_20130302_150238Miss Tennessee Jr. High America 2013 Winner Iyonia Boyce hosted an event called Dressing Up Against Bullying on Saturday, March 2, 2013. There was a skit presented by a group of young ladies, spoken word and young people opening up about their experiences being bullied. Miss Iyonia Boyce, as well as her mother, did an excellent job of sharing their experiences of being bullied, understanding and addressing the signs, taking a personal pledge against bullying and even demonstrated a couple of examples of teasing vs bullying.

When a person is bullied, they are intimidated, scared, belittled and made to feel insignificant. He/She is oftentimes afraid to come forward because of the repercussions that may follow: not being taken seriously, fear of the acts continuing or getting worse, becoming alienated/ isolated or being labeled a snitch, scary or weak.

Now, take those same characteristics and apply them to domestic violence. Abuse in any form is unacceptable. Those who deal with domestic violence have been bullied in some form. Bullying is a cowardly way to scare, intimidate and control someone. When it’s not addressed properly, it can and often does lead to physical harm.

I am extremely proud of Iyonia for speaking out. Sadly, the bullying she encountered was not only with her peers, but with adults as well. Children indeed live what they learn. They need  to believe that concerns such as bullying will  be dealt with safely, swiftly and justly.What often gets dismissed as ‘kids being kids’ can lead to children becoming depressed, suicidal or grow up to be adults more accepting to this treatment because it was never addressed when they were younger. Education and communication is key for both the children and adults.