By Sean Barron
Nearly 30 years have passed since Jodee Blanco’s high-school graduation, but remnants of the damage she endured from having been bullied remain.
“I was the kid no one wanted to be caught dead hanging out with,” Blanco, a New York Times best-selling author and anti-bullying activist, said during her presentation Monday at Boardman High School.
Sponsoring her free, 90-minute seminar were The Vindicator, Meridian Community Care and the Boardman School District.
Blanco, author of “Please Stop Laughing at Us” and two other books, passionately recalled several instances of having been bullied from grades five through 12, such as when, at age 13, several tormentors held her down outdoors while others shoved snow into her mouth and ear, then later claimed it was a joke.
She also warned that posting disparaging online messages about someone — even if intended in jest — can be damaging to that person for life.
Blanco’s troubles continued in high school, such as when she asked several students in the cafeteria if she could sit at their tables and was shunned, rebuffed and called names. Just as upsetting, she said, was that no one came to her aid.
“Bullying isn’t just the mean things you do; it’s the nice things you never do,” she said.
Despite her initial fear, she said, Blanco attended her 20-year high-school reunion and learned one of her former tormentors had a teenage daughter who was being bullied and had attempted suicide. The occasion also allowed her to forgive those who hurt her, though the effects of having been bullied lingered and ruined her marriage, she continued.
Blanco, who’s also an entrepreneur in the publishing and public-relations arenas, said an effective way to deal with bullies is “compassionate discipline,” meaning they should be given ways to develop and exercise empathy, such as performing and writing about kind acts, she noted.