Former Foster Youth Shares Personal Journey From Pain to Power
Imagine being so scared to go to a school that you hide in the library so that you can be invisible.
Imagine being called names such as “blackie” and “ugly”, while walking to class by a group of your peers. Imagine what your life would be like if you are jumped, hit, chased and chronically teased at school, and no one comes to your rescue
Sadly, thousands of children in the Inland Empire, especially foster youth, are afraid to go to school because they are violently and verbally attacked.
I was one of those children. A quiet, shy kid who felt unloved and unworthy due to the trauma I faced, I was often the target of unwanted harassment. I wore the same clothes or hand-me-downs that were either too big or too small for me.
My hair was unkept because no one invested money to care for my hair. My clothing, dark skin, and coarse hair made me a target for daily bullying for a decade that nearly cost me my life.
It definitely cost me my self-esteem and added shame to my already fragile self-image that I carried well into my adulthood. A common belief is that words don’t hurt.
But the truth is if you hear something long enough, it becomes real for you. I eventually ended up believing everything that the bullies at school said about me, and started verbally abusing myself. I truly believed I had no worth and that I was unlovable.
I believed this well into my adulthood even after getting degrees. As a result, I chose minimum wage jobs even with an M.A. degree because I didn’t feel good enough to go after the jobs I really wanted.
I engaged in self-destructive behaviors, chose unhealthy relationships, and did the bare minimum for myself. I eventually hit rock bottom and became clinically depressed, developed social anxiety, and overate to numb the pain.
Fed up with my life, I went to therapy and worked with coaches who taught me advanced coping skills. After getting the help I needed, I began having a positive relationship with myself and decided to help youth in crisis. Helping foster youth succeed has now become my mission due to these harrowing statistics from www.nveee.org:
86% of students said, “Other kids picking on them, making fun of them or bullying them” causes teenagers to turn to lethal violence in schools. Harassment and bullying have been linked to 75%
of school-shooting incidents. Suicide remains among the leading causes of death of children under 14. In most cases, young people die from hanging. Suicide rates among 10 to 14-year-olds have grown more than 50 percent over the last three decades.
If your child is experiencing bullying, it is important to work with a trusted bullying expert or therapist in order to help your child become empowered, and develop coping skills that will help them overcome the effects of abuse.
Professional counseling is highly encouraged for victims of bullying in order to help the effects not affect them negatively into adulthood.
When bullying takes place, talking with your child about their feelings, developing an action plan that will involve the school as well as teachers, and giving your child the emotional support they need to thrive is extremely valuable in reducing the negative effects of bullying.
Don’t ignore bullying until it’s too late. Become an advocate for your child and get them the help they need to stay safe and become bullyproof.
You can also help disadvantaged youth in foster care get clothing and other essential items that will help them live a better life. Make a donation now to Children’s Foundation of America, by visiting https://childrensfoundationofamerica.org/donate/
About Florence Edwards:
Florence has a strong commitment to helping foster youth and their families thrive and live successful lives.
A former foster youth, Florence obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degree in Communications from California State University, San Bernardino, and is a certified Holistic Life Coach, motivational writer, self-help author, and celebrity interviewer. Beyond the Trinity Youth Services blog, Florence’s articles can be found in numerous platforms including Foster Focus Magazine, Heart & Soul Magazine, BET Centric, and Huffington Post. A passionate advocate for the LGBTQ community, Florence continues to educate, support, and mentor foster youth throughout Southern California. She is the Foster Care Marketing Specialist at Trinity youth services, a COA accredited foster care and adoptions agency, who has helped over 65,000 children and families create better futures throughout Southern California.