LYNN, Mass. – Felicia Moore decided to write a children’s book as a way to fill her downtime, but when she learned her daughter had become the victim of bullying it became a mission.
“I didn’t know where this book would go, I just wanted to do something for kids,” she said.
It was her 14-year-old daughter, Janet Egbe, who suggested the book should be about bullying awareness.
Once the book, a sing-along aimed at 3- to 5-year-olds, was completed, Egbe penned a letter to OMG Girlz magazine in the hopes of getting some publicity for the story.
Egbe was featured last summer as a talented tween for chasing after her dream to become an actress and was familiar with the magazine.
In the letter, however, she revealed that the book was important to her because she had been a victim of bullying since she was 8 years old.
“I felt sick,” Moore said, describing her reaction to the letter. “I didn’t know. She had never said anything.”
Janet, a small, slight eighth grader at Marshall Middle School, said she was bullied because of her weight. Children would call her anorexic, skinny bones, skinny mini and disgusting, she said. She never told anyone how much it hurt her because she figured no one would understand.
“I didn’t feel comfortable talking about it and people said it was normal,” she said. “It was just teasing.”
But for Janet, it wasn’t just teasing, it crossed the line.
“They started grabbing my wrists to measure them with their fingers,” she said.
As she’s gotten older, Janet said the bullying has lessened and she now has a circle of friends who stand up for her, which helps.
Moore, who has been in the medical field for over 20 years, said she has also educated her daughter on the importance of reaching out to an adult for help if she is being hurt, physically or mentally.
“After I read the letter I talked to her about the importance of not feeling like you have to fix everything,” Moore said.
She said her daughter, like many kids, believe they should or can take care of themselves, even when it includes issues far above their level of understanding.
Egbe said when the teasing first started, she doesn’t believe the children were aware of how hurtful they were.
“I think they thought they were helping me by telling me I should eat something,” she said. “Bullying wasn’t talked about a lot then and sometimes I would go along with it just so they would stop. It leaves a scar on your heart.”
Janet said she is no longer afraid to share her story, particularly if it can help someone else.
“I believe there are more people who are victims of bullying and maybe this will help them feel more comfortable telling their story as well,” she said.
According to bullyingstatistics.
org, 77 percent of school children are bullied verbally in some way and Egbe said only 77 percent of those bullied ever report the problem.
“If we can get everyone to report it I think that would be way better,” she said. “That would be much better.”
Moore said she doesn’t believe children are born mean, she believes it’s a learned behavior and she hopes that the book she and Janet wrote might reach younger kids and show them bullying is not OK.
“You need to reach them when they’re young,” she said. “You can’t wait until they’re teens to reach out to kids. Then they think they know everything and it’s too late.”