By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
He was berated, he was beaten. At one point, his elementary school peers dragged him outside during a solar eclipse and attempted to pry his eyes open to stare at the blinding light.
Well, for Oshawa’s Ryan Doyle he’s definitely now seen the light, and it didn’t damage his eyes, but filled him with the desire and ability to reach out and help others who have experienced or are experiencing bullying.
And while always prevalent, it is a message that will be resounding through the halls of schools across the province today, Feb. 28, which marks Pink Shirt Day, one of the largest anti-bullying campaigns in the province.
“I am a proud supporter of Pink Shirt Day because I realize that bullying is a horrible issue within Canadian society,” Doyle tells The Oshawa Express. “Bullying is abuse. Good people do not abuse others through rumours, gossip, intimidation, violence, cruelty, or verbally abusive measures. Bullies are not good people; therefore, they are the people who need to change the error of their ways.”
Stats estimate that one in every five kids is a victim of bullying, and for Doyle, it all started early in his school years. Living with autism and dealing with depression, Doyle says he was intimidated and shunned by his peers throughout all his years in school.
Now, he’s written a book about his past experiences, “Tears of Loneliness: The Angel Within.”
The part-memoir, part-self-help book is designed to help the victims of bullying through Doyle’s own personal experiences from his middle and high school years.
The 106-page memoir, which has been in the Top 100 list within its genre on Amazon, is available in e-book, paperback and hardcover. Plans are also in the works for a fuller memoir that will share the completeness of Doyle’s struggles. Doyle also has a third book in the works, tentatively titled The Bright Future, which will help victims move on and live fuller lives.
Most notably, Doyle encourages victims to report incidents of bullying and to never forget that their lives are meaningful.
“I feel like bullying can best be overcome, by victims choosing to not only report every abusive incident which occurs, but by also finding a way to not allow the words and actions of bullies to bother them in any way, shape, or manner,” he says. “With this said, there needs to me a team effort to bring an end to bullying because bullies need to change, harsher punishments for bullying must be implemented within school settings nationally, more vigilance needs to take place, and every student needs to report bullying of any and all kinds immediately”
And it’s not just for the kids, Doyle says.
“It is important for family members of bullies to tell their children that it is not okay for them to abuse others, and explain to their kids that it is never okay to be violent towards their classmates,” Doyle says. “Make sure that their children are always nice towards others, and make sure that they remain involved in their children’s lives, and to always remain excellent role models for their children.”
Both the Durham District School Board and the Durham Catholic District School Board will be hosting events in honour of Pink Shirt Day. For Janine Bowyer, the superintendent of education and safe schools at DCDSB, celebrating inclusion is a key priority for their board.
“We have a history of bullying prevention tools and initiatives which educate students and staff on how to identify, report and prevent bullying situations,” she says, pointing to the board’s online ‘Report It” tool on school websites, and bullying prevention curriculum.
“In addition to school and board-wide activities, we encourage student and staff participation in broader initiatives, such as Pink Shirt Day, as part of the national movement to end bullying,” Bowyer says.
As is his habit, Doyle has strong and inspiring words of encouragement for anyone who may be enduring the pains of bullying right now.
“My advice for victims of bullying is for them to always remember that their lives are worth living. I have overcome bullying. I am a survivor of bullying and I am having an outstanding life. I always will remain as happy as I am now,” he says. “Because I am doing great in my life despite being bullied in my past, it is my mission in life to help victims who experience bullying nation-wide.”