Be A Buddy

Today in second grade, my son signed a contract not to be a bully. To stand up for others when he hears them being picked on. To tell an adult when someone needs help. To remember that words hurt as much as fists. To be a buddy, not a bully.

I’m proud of him.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month. PACK OF DORKS’ release is timed to dovetail with the campaign.

I’m proud of that, too.

Right now, young adult authors are engaging in a #OneVoice campaign, where they write letters to their bullied teenage selves. Check out this incredible piece by Ellen Hopkins. And this one by Cole Gibsen.

It makes my heart hurt. I think back to my own experiences—to the name-calling, the whispering, and, worse of all, the way some kids’ eyes slid right past me. Like I was background, no worthier of attention than school hallway tiles.

What stings even more than that, if I’m being honest, is facing the times my younger self didn’t uphold that “be a buddy, not a bully” contract.

Maybe that’s why writing Pack of Dorks felt so good. I got to live through Lucy, who does stand up for her friends. In time, she even stands up for herself.

If you could write a letter to your young, bullied self, what would you say?