The thought of one of our children being bullied, either verbally, physically or covertly, is something that will always remain one of the greatest concerns for any parent. One boy that was bullied to almost breaking point was Dylan Raven. But Dylan has refused to let his bullies destroy his life and instead set about campaigning to put an end to the devastation that threatens to ruin the lives of so many. I heard about Dylans work to stop bullying online and approached him to answer some questions to help both ourselves as parents understand the role we must play and our children too, get a better perspective of how damaging bullying can be. Dylan is 16 now and studying year 11. You can find him on Facebook at Facebook.com/sn2bullying and follow him on Twitter @DylanRaven16.
Could you give us a little background on what you have endured at the hands of bullies in the past and more recently?
I was firstly bullied when I started year 7 back in 2008. I had pencils, erasers, sharpeners, scissors and rulers thrown at me. By the end of year 7 after I began year 8 the bullying worsened and that is when it turned more physical and violent.
I was choked whilst standing in the canteen line, had my head rammed into a brick wall while waiting in my class line for the teacher, one science lesson I had a cable tie put around my throat, which was then tightened to the point where I couldn’t breathe. My normal teacher had been away that day, so my science class had a casual. At the time when I had the cable tie put around my throat, the teacher had their back to us as they were writing on the board. Their response was “I didn’t see it, you must have done it yourself to get them into trouble” At this stage I was so frustrated; I just walked out of the classroom because everyone was laughing at me.
Do you have any idea as to why you were singled out to be bullied?
A few reasons which I believe I was targeted; They were trying to show off in front of their friends, peer pressuring each other to bully me and to make themselves look good in front of everyone who witnessed the incidents.
Did you divulge your experiences to your parents straight away?
No, I didn’t tell them straight away, mainly because I was too scared or I didn’t know how or what to say. The day my family found out was because, my cousin who is a nurse took me to the hospital for some tests and the doctor put me on a heart rate monitor and spoke about school. After a few seconds of her mentioning the word school, my heart rate started climbing and I had a panic attack, which took me a while to recover from.
How did your parents react?
My parents were shocked to hear about what had been happening, the reason being because they had no idea this was going on at school and also how I had been feeling (depressed, having anxiety/panic attacks)
Why do you think you have been able to take a stand against bullies?
After seeing so many heartbreaking articles about kids, teenagers and adults taking their own life due to being bullied either at home, at school or in the work place. One article which I read and what motivated me the most; over in America, a year 7 boy was going to the toilets at his school and two year 10 boys were waiting in one of the toilet blocks. As soon as the young boy walked in, they grabbed him and hung him on the back of a toilet door hook, which killed him. This had made me realize that bullies cannot get away with it anymore, someone needs to be a voice for these innocent victims and stand up.
What advice would you have for kids that are being bullied today?
Always remember you were brought into this world for a reason, and never forget that your family and friends will never stop loving you for who you are. If you have goals always try and achieve them, never give up, never let anyone put you down, because the day when you do finally reach your goals, you will feel extremely happy with yourself and if I can do it, anyone can.
What about those that have bullied you, and are bullying others today? What would you say to them if given the chance?
Just stop it; no one deserves to be bullied, at any place, any time or anywhere.
It doesn’t matter what sort of personality anyone has, or what we all look like, at the end of the day – we are all the same. You don’t know if you’re taking someone’s life into your own hands.
To those that have bullied me, nothing can ever be taken back with what you done to me. You all made me suffer, almost every single day. How can you live with yourself?
If a parent feels their child may be getting bullied, what advice would you give them in terms of ways to help them get their kids to open up?
Advice which I would give parents if their child may be getting bullied;
Develop a climate in your home that encourages discussion, that way it can make it easier for the child to open up to them.
When their kids arrive home from school or get in the car, ask them “How was your day” or “Did anything happen at school today” Let them know that you will support them, help them deal with it.
What do you want to see happen in society in order to Say No to Bullying?
I want schools, police and governments to band together in a nation-wide push to eradicate bullying.
Tougher laws/punishments for severe cases of bullying.
Visits to schools by the police to talk about bullying, as it seems to be worsening as time goes on.
Thankyou so much Dylan for your honesty and bravery. I know that just by talking and encouraging discussion amongst families, we can only hope to highlight the signs of those being bullied, those doing the bullying and recognise the damage that ongoing bullying can cause. As parents it is our role to talk to our kids about what is acceptable and what is not. And as Dylan says, keep those lines of communication open. Continue to connect and demand that your children respect those around them, their peers and most importantly, themselves.
Since writing this post Dylan was today nominated for a Pride of Australia Child of Courage Award for his mission to stop bullies worldwide. You can read about his nomination in the Daily Telegraph. Congratulations Dylan, awesome work.
Have your kids experienced bullying? How did you handle it and did you see the signs?