Today I put into action Dolly Everett’s call to “speak even if your voice shakes”.
While at a child’s birthday party in Melbourne, as all the kids were off playing and the parents stayed together watching from a small seated area, a parent – who I had seen at a few times before and had spoken to briefly when I first arrived – was loudly speaking about children with special needs. She was referring to the children who had learning aids at her daughter’s kindergarten as “special needs c**ts”. These words are searingly hurtful, but they also cut me on a deeply personal level.
I have a five-year-old son who has autism. He challenges me, inspires me, makes me smile wider then I ever knew I could and makes me work harder then I ever thought I would have to. He along with my other two boys are my whole world and to think that someone could speak about him that way just crushed me.
Now before I get into more detail, I want to make it clear that I believe that bullying is never okay. I would hate for my story to encourage any form of bullying towards anyone. Whilst I want to talk about what happened at this party and how this mother’s actions affected me, I also want to make sure that we remember, she is a person and no one deserves to feel bullied or victimised even if their thoughts and opinions are different to our own.
I always tell my boys to “speak even if their voice shakes”. The story of Amy “Dolly” Everett and the bullying which tragically resulted in her taking her own life really affected me. It touched my soul, the same way I am sure it has touched so many others. I have been telling my boys that if they see someone is being bullied or if they themselves are being bullied then they should say something, always be respectful, and always do the right thing.
Everyone who knows me knows that I am not one for confrontation. I hate it, I shy away from it at every opportunity; but not today. Today I made the decision that if I am not part of the solution I am part of the problem and I cannot stand by and let these words go without consequence – even if the only consequence is that the mother knows that her words have had an effect on someone that heard them.