Three Things

Three Things

 Three Things

I know I’m probably not unique in reflecting about family, tough situations and school at this time of year.  With another school year for my kids closed, I find myself looking back at where we’ve come from as a unit.  I have a son who has graduated from high-school and is starting college out of state next fall.  I find myself looking at the charity I helped to visualize and manage, Bullying Recovery Resource Center.  I see how far we have come, and how far we have to go.  I am filled with gratitude and a bit of sadness.

It wasn’t that long ago, five years ago, that our family’s lives were in complete disarray.  My son had just completed his 7th grade.  He had endured months of relentless bullying.  He was physically, emotionally and verbally berated daily at his former school.  He was starting to slip away from the energetic, gregarious and humorous boy he was into a shell of survival.  The bullying he tolerated was eating him alive before our very eyes.  He was diagnosed with depression, anxiety, PTSD and had thoughts of suicide.  He was slipping away, and the rest of our family was desperate and frightened.

I am unable to recount all the strife he endured due to legal reasons.  That isn’t really the purpose of this anyways.  His road back to himself was filled with peaks and valleys.  It included mental health professionals, medication, two parents a sister and extended family who sought to comfort and prod him forward, a new school, and some of the most amazing teachers I have ever met.

The last five years we at BRRC have become experts about bullying.  Our charity has been blessed to help people across the state who were in the same exact shoes we were.  The families who contact us are desperate, exhausted, and dumbfounded.  We let them know they are no longer alone, and we work together to keep their children safe and to find solutions that will work for their family.

If there are only a few things I could impart to others about taking a bite out of bullying, it would be the following:

Upstanders.  Become one.  Teach and coach your kids to become one.  Acknowledge those who are.

The dictionary defines an upstander as “a person who speaks or acts in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied.”

My son had two students that we later learned were upstanders when he went through the bullying.  These children reported the abuse he was enduring to school administrators.  One child was so impassioned that he brought his mother with him.  We knew nothing of these events until we had left the school.  When my son learned that he had allies that cared enough to speak out about what he was enduring, he felt empowered and much less alone.  In my opinion, upstanders save lives.

If your child shares with you that they are being bullied, drop everything, and truly listen.

A young person’s job is to attend school successfully.  That includes more than academics.  Being bullied and harassed feels like a failure.  It can be extremely difficult for a child to tell his or her parents about the challenges they are having at school.  Take the time to listen, stay calm, ask open-ended and non-judgmental questions, and to come with ideas and plans together. 

I also tell parents that the whole story can come out it pieces over an extended period of time.  Family and home are a bullied child’s safe zone.  They very likely will talk about a piece of what they are enduring to “test” the family and see how it will be received.  Listening with love and compassion cannot be over emphasized.  They are counting on you to help and not make things worse. 

Bullying must be STOPPED.  It is not negotiated, and it is not dealt with using conflict resolution tactics.  An apology and a handshake don’t STOP bullying.

The new legislation that we helped create, Jack and Cait’s Law, addresses conflict versus bullying in Colorado.  Bullying always includes a difference in power and an intent to harm.  When these are present, it is bullying, and the target needs to feel safe, and the instigator needs a reasonable consequence.  Both target and the provoker need help.  It cannot be ignored.  It is up to the adults in charge to make it stop.  It is up to the parents of the target to make sure it is addressed.

I wish you and your family a safe, fun, and healthy summer.  We are here in the summer too for any questions or needs you may have.  303-991-1397.

 Bullying Legislation in Colorado 2021

 Bullying Legislation in Colorado 2021

 Bullying Legislation in Colorado 2021

By Dru Ahlborg, BRRC

As our nation and our state begin cautiously to emerge from the pandemic, we are starting to congregate and socialize and children are heading back to in-person learning on a permanent basis. While most kids (and their families) are delighted at this development, many, unfortunately, are not.

Bullying, always a problem in our society, changed its shape during the lockdown as in-person bullying took a hiatus and cyberbullying saw a significant uptick.  Now in-person bullying is expected to come roaring back as schools once again open their doors and children come flooding in after a very stressful time for many families. 

The good news for children in Colorado is that we are finally recognizing that bullying is an epidemic in our state and our country.  The Colorado Model Bullying Prevention and Education Policy was adopted in July, 2019 to provide guidance to school districts in developing bullying prevention and education.

 It is time, though, to improve this document.  Colorado House Bill 21-1221 (Jack and Cait’s Law) will utilize the stakeholder process when updating the model policy and must include parents of students who have been bullied.  The bill also requires schools to report bullying and provides clarification of conflict versus bullying. The role of cyberbullying during online instruction is also addressed. 

Jack Padilla and Caitlyn Haynes, the Colorado children for whom the bill is named, tragically ended their lives after being relentlessly bullied.  The suicides of Jack and Cait are illustrative of a much larger problem, however. According to the 2019 National Center for Educational Statistics, one out of every five (20.2 percent) students report being bullied. 

The Cyberbullying Research Center breaks down bullying by states and in 2019, 83.5 percent of Colorado students reported having been bullied at some time, and 65.8 percent reported being bullied in the past 30 days (A significant jump from 2016 when it was reported at 51.5 percent).

The Center for Disease Control tells us that students who experience bullying are at an increased risk for depression, anxiety, sleep difficulties, lower academic achievement, and dropping out of school. 

Additionally, there are alarming statistics about the link between suicide and bullying.  A Yale University Study found that bullying targets are two to nine times more likely to consider suicide than non-targets and a study in Britain revealed that at least half the suicides of young people are related to bullying.

We as a state must take a stand against bullying and teen suicide.  It will take legislative action   to ensure that bullying is properly reported, that bullying is properly addressed, and that fine-tuning the Bullying Model Policy includes adults whose lives have been strongly impacted.  It is time to reduce bullying and teen suicide in our state. HB 21-1221 will be a great start!

For kids who are being bullied – and their families – please know that there are ways to get help now! Here is a list of resources:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day via phone or chat: 1-800-273-8255

Colorado Crisis Services is available 24 hours a day via phone: 1-844-493-8255 or text “Talk” to 38255

Safe 2 Tell receives anonymous reports about anything that threatens you, your family or your community: 1-877-542-7233

Bullying Recovery Resource Center aids children and their families through education and advocacy who are dealing with bullying.  303-991-1397 or