About 600 fifth through eighth graders heard a strong anti-bullying message in the Snake River High School auditorium on Wednesday.
Author Brad Tassell used song, examples and his fictional detective story, "Don't Feed the Bully,"
"Why is it funny when someone hurts him/herself?" Tassell asked.
With the help of his audience, three reasons were determined:
° "Because it's not you," one student answered.
° "It is you; just not at this time," Tassell added.
° "It's not forever."
"We have empathy for people because [the action] has happened to us and we know it's not forever," Tassell said. "We don't have empathy for someone who is scared inside—hurting emotionally.
"People never get over [some emotional trauma]," he said. Students who are bullied suffer similarly to soldiers coming home from Afghanistan with Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
"The action against bullied students are repeated over time again and again," said Tassell. "Bullying breaks people down."
"We need to learn to deal with one another," he said.
"Don't let the bully get to you," Tassell said. "It's O.K. to tell other people that it's going on."
People who are bullied feel there is no way out, that no one is listening and they are hurting every day.
He gave the example of one boy in his high school, named Wayne. Wayne had green teeth because he had a gum disease, Tassell said. Every day Wayne was teased and every day Wayne reacted—big time.
"Wayne didn't have to have that surgery he needed before he finished high school because at the end of the year, Wayne committed suicide," Tassell said.
Tassell suggested four actions each person should learn to use. These are:
° Stay calm.
° Assess violence (will you be hurt?)
° Have a thick skin and develop a sense of humor, laugh at yourself.
° Collect evidence.
"Your job is to make decisions in your best interest," Tassell said.
"Never spend time with people who hurt you," he said. "Only spend time with people who have your best interests at heart."
"Look for those people," said Tassell.
"Never upload, text, email, tweet or Facebook anything you don't want your parents or grandparents to see," said Tassell. "One picture can destroy 20 years of your life."