Advocate for your children, because they are looking for us to stand for them when they can’t stand for themselves. We can’t be quiet any longer. We have to reach out – speak out. But, we have to take a stand for these children and let them know they do have the support to move forward. Policy makers need to help the bullies as well. Suspending them is not the answer. Together, we need to take a stand to help those who need help.”
Shanta Miller Synaker, Founder and CEO
Parents Against Bullying of Virginia, Incorporated
First Published as “One Family’s Fight Against Bullying”
http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-1053745 on CNN iReport
Bullying is more than a local, national or regionally problem. It’s a worldwide problem that affects adults and children alike. Whether verbal, physical or online, bullying is an aggressive, unwanted behavior towards others that involves an overall perceived power imbalance.
When youth bully one another, they typically use their physical strength, embarrassing information or popularity to harm or chastise others. The recent deaths of 15 year-old Felicia Garcia of Staten Island, New York and 12 year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida only illustrate how tragic it all can become for the victims of bullying.
Felicia Garcia, committed suicide following intense bullying and humiliation by her classmates after she had sex with some football players at a party. She ended her life by jumping in front of a moving train. Rebecca Ann Sedwick of Lakeland, Florida jumped to her death from an old cement business rooftop after she was terrorized by dozens of girls on social media.
Shanta Miller-Synaker, Founder and CEO of Parents Against Bullying of Virginia Incorporated, knows the trauma caused by bullying and personally dealt with the challenges when her then 11 year-old twin daughters Iyana and Keyana were terrorized. Iyana suffered severe trauma as the result of a physical assault.
When one of her twins expressed she no longer wanted to live anymore, this propelled Synaker into action and with the help of her husband, Tracy, she formed Parents Against Bullying.
Synaker, the parent of three daughters, (twins Iyana and Keyana and older sister 19 year-old Shantray) says these scenarios occur too frequently and the fear that parents have for their child’s well being is real. “Because I have walked in the shoes of those parents whose children have been bullied and were contemplating committing suicide themselves, I can really sympathize and empathize with the parents and families facing this type of situation. I’m very thankful and grateful that my daughter did not go through with this. We were able to pray and talk her through it and get her help. This is why I push so hard. This is nothing to be played with or taken lightly at all. You definitely have to be that filter, meaning you have to listen to your children and you have to kind of filter out things that may not be important and keep those things that are important. So I just feel like I need to continue to be an advocate for children and parents because I was that parent and I am still that parent.”
Synaker went on to add, “No parent should have to see their children change from active, vibrant kids to exhibiting depression, the desire to take their own life or withdraw from family and friends. My daughters were leaving a fundamental private style school setting to begin their first year of middle school in a public school setting. This is where they began experiencing bullying, starting with their books being thrown out of the windows to physical assault. My husband, a former school security officer and bounty hunter, nearly shutdown himself as a result of what had happened to his girls. This event dramatically affected our family and friends.”
Synaker further stated, “Since I started this, I used to get parents saying that children always go through this. But now, because of the national attention, parents now realize the magnitude of the problem and now want to see something done. Recently, Hampton City Mayor George Wallace honored Synaker with a proclamation recognizing her efforts. She has also gained support from the Hampton school system and members of the community.
Synaker’s daughters are now speaking out and empowering themselves. Keyana even created a slogan she wants to wear on a T-shirt. It reads: “I was bullied and I was ashamed, but now I still stand here today.”
To help combat bullying in your community or school go to www.StopBullying.Gov for additional information.