The pen is mightier than the bully

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To say that middle school has been difficult for Olivia Gardner of Novato is like saying the Sahara desert is rather dry. It was so bad that after three different schools, her mother finally pulled her out and is homeschooling her. Olivia has epilepsy and when she had a seizure at school, the other kids called her a "retard" and dragged her backpack through the mud. Thus began the bullying that followed her to two other schools.

Two sisters, Emily and Sarah Buder, from nearby Mill Valley, read about Olivia's plight and wrote to her. They also got their schoolmates to write to her. Then it really started to spread and Olivia started getting letters of support from all over the country and beyond. She got letters from kids and adults. Over a thousand strangers have written to her to share their support, including this one:

"Dear Olivia, I'm 60 years old and have lived in Marin County my whole life. When I was in the 5th grade I arrived at school and found a note in my desk signed by every girl in my class, except for my 2 closest friends, saying the most horrible things about me. ... Olivia, I hope it helps to know that others are thinking about you and have been through what you went through. Stay strong."

Olivia is doing better and has even joined the Buder sisters to give a talk at a program called Midway Cafe, designed to prepare fifth-graders for the social aspects of middle school, including teaching them about the effects of bullying.

Honestly, I'm amazed that this wasn't nipped in the bud -- there should have been some training done at that first school after the first incident so that it went no further. It's nice, however, to know that there are kids who will make the effort to help someone who has been targeted by bullies. I hope Olivia continues to do well. Kudos to the Buder sisters for getting this started.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.