BY: GEORGE ADDISON
Bullying is killing our kids. Being different is killing our kids and the kids who are bullying are dying inside. We have to save our kids whether they are bullied or they are bullying. They are all in pain.
It was five years ago that Shant’a Miller-Synaker, CEO and Founder of Parents Against Bullying of Virginia (P.A.B.), began her journey to make schools and life better for victims of bullying. Spurred by her twin daughter’s personal story of victimization, Miller helped them reclaim their lives and supported their effort to advocate for youth and parents throughout the state.
“It’s exciting that Governor McAuliffe and the Virginia Legislature are not only hearing our voice but the voices of many people and advocates from around the Commonwealth. It’s one step closer to getting accountability for victims and families affected by bullying and suicide, said Miller-Synaker.
Bill SB 1117 sponsored by Senator Jeremy Pike states that school counselors receive training in trauma, suicide, and substance abuse when renewing licensure from the state. Bill HB 1709 sponsored by Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn states that School Boards adopt policies to tell parents when a child is involved in bullying, either as a victim or perpetrator. Both are aimed at assisting victims and families.
Miller-Synaker also stated that bullies also need help saying, “They need help as well; they’re people too. You’re not born a bully. They’re crying out for help, so we definitely don’t want to leave them left out of the solution by only locking them up and throwing away the key and forgetting about them. They have families as well so we want to help people on both sides of the fence.”
Miller-Synaker said she often reflects on the five-year challenge to get support for the anti-bullying movement with
mixed emotions adding, “It’s been an emotional journey and the good days have outweighed the bad days. I’ll continue to say this because I do see progression and more support. I’ve been contacted by people and organizations that can make things happen, many whom I never thought I’d be sitting at the table with to find solutions to this problem. My work is valued and people call upon me to be part of the dialogue and to develop strategies to help the community at large. I still get emotional when I remember why I started this journey.”
She regrets that victims are appearing to get younger, but she feels that it is getting better. Her daughters are growing and have embraced their history to help others while at the same time focusing on their education. They are not allowing bullying to hinder them in any way. Their goal is to help educate and mentor others.
Miller-Synaker further added, “People support the anti-bullying and suicide prevention efforts based mostly on how it affects them. However, there’s plenty of room for all those wishing to help.”
Parents Against Bullying of Virginia (P.A.B.) is now focusing on collaborations to take its message to communities nationally and internationally. It’s a message Miller-Synaker believes she is destined to share.