Anti-Bullying Speaker Challenges Students, Staff & Parents to Be Nice, to Care for Others

Riley Guyette, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

“Bullying isn’t just the mean things we do; it’s the nice things we never do.”

This was a quote from Jodee Blanco—a bullying survivor turned activist who spoke to NDA and GRACE middle school students on May 5th.

She additionally hosted a meeting with NDA staff and an evening  seminar to help students and parents get along. 

Blanco is the author of the memoir Please Stop Laughing at Me, a New York Times bestselling book by an adult looking back on her school experiences.

Since she wrote the memoir, Blanco has spent the past 23 years traveling the nation’s schools giving speeches and hosting seminars against bullying. 

Her May 5th presentations saw her re-enacting stories from her childhood and then explaining key takeaways from those experiences. 

One of the core messages from her speeches was the idea that one may not notice that they are bullying another student and may be unaware of the lifelong harm that they are causing that student.

“None of you in this room are ever mean on purpose and I know that,” she said. “But sometimes something doesn’t have to be on purpose in order to screw with someone’s head.”

Blanco also made clear that being a bystander is just as bad as directly being rude to someone. 

“Whether it is something you do or something you harbor, if it makes someone feel smaller, it’s bullying.” 

The speaker finds comfort in knowing that she is able to make a difference at the schools she goes to, and that is why she does the work that she does. 

She explained, “If I speak at a school, and only one student, just one, feels hope instead of despair, that makes all the sacrifice and hard work so worth it.” 

This ideology could be seen when during her speech she tried to connect to students who may have been suffering on a personal level.

If asked what about her childhood she would change if she could, Blanco explained that she wouldn’t change a single thing, for if she were to do so, she would never have been able to visit schools like NDA.

 “That’s another amazing element of why I love what I do–instead of being angry at God for my childhood, I’m grateful because it’s allowed me to help others in a way that fills my soul deeply,” she said. “I’ve been given the privilege of being able to turn my pain into purpose, and I thank God every day for that gift.”