Bullying is something that everyone experiences during school, and too often it's brushed aside as "kids being kids." It's the snide comments in the girl's room or the shove that sends a younger boy down the stairs, It's the hurtful words on the playground or the whispers in gym class. It shames and diminishes. It robs us of our potential.
But it doesn't have to.
Bullying plays a central role in my young adult novel THIS MAY GO ON YOUR PERMANENT RECORD. The main character, Sally Clark, finds herself enrolled in a secret prep school focused on World Domination. While some of the students are sponsored, like Sally--they were recommended to the school by an alumni, but they didn't have a family member attend the school--the vast majority are legacies. A small contingent of legacies (led by Justine Carmichael) think that sponsored kids fall in the "less than" category. Less smart. Less capable. Less worthy.
Justine wages war on the sponsored kids using classic tactics. She singles out the sponsored kids by forcing them to sit in a specific place in the cafeteria and making them wear black armbands. Justine uses a small group of older kids to "police" the sponsored kids. They search rooms for "stolen" merchandise and intimidate sponsored kids for being out after curfew. Justine wants to make their lives hell, and for a time, she succeeds.
However, Sally knows this isn't right, and she's going to do something about it. She encourages kids to sit where they want. She takes the black armbands and she destroys them. She confronts people who terrorize sponsored kids. She challenges Justine on several occasions, and eventually (spoiler alert) Sally wins.
A few factors helped Sally find the courage to fight Justine:
- The school's culture encourages putting skills learned during class into use outside of class. This includes lesson on public speaking, military strategy, and the art of war.
- Aduts in the novel repeatedly tell Sally she's worthy and that she belongs at the school. Not only that, their actions back up their words.
- Sally's friends are supportive.
If you're experiencing bullying, you can learn from Sally's experience. Surround yourself with supportive people (sometimes called "finding your tribe"). When others say good things about you, believe them. Remember that you are loved. More importantly, you are worthy of that love.
About the campaign:
#HoldOnToTheLight is a blog campaign encompassing blog posts by fantasy and science fiction authors around the world in an effort to raise awareness around treatment for depression, suicide prevention, domestic violence intervention, PTSD initiatives, bullying prevention and other mental health-related issues. We believe fandom should be supportive, welcoming and inclusive, in the long tradition of fandom taking care of its own. We encourage readers and fans to seek the help they or their loved ones need without shame or embarrassment.
Please consider donating to or volunteering for organizations dedicated to treatment and prevention such as: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Hope for the Warriors (PTSD), National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Canadian Mental Health Association, MIND (UK), SANE (UK), BeyondBlue (Australia), To Write Love On Her Arms and the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.
To find out more about #HoldOnToTheLight, find a list of participating authors and blog posts, or reach a media contact, go to