When Sally Ragoo talks about secondary school there is one part of the experience that she would rather forget—the bullying that she had to endure for years until she got the courage to tell her mother about it.
Older students, Ragoo said used to tease newcomers who wore the school uniform in the correct way and since Ragoo did, she was teased and taunted for a longer time.
She was ashamed to recall the names she was called and the things that were done to her to affect her self-esteem.
Years later, Ragoo was forced to relive her bullying experience again when she discovered that her son was also being bullied.
"Unlike me, my son wasn't a talker so he endured it for a lot longer than I did."
Ragoo said she noticed her son's indifference to school activities, his excuses for not wanting to go to school and she found it strange that he rarely talked about friends.
"He used to ask for more money to buy lunch but I never recognised all these signs as being a result of bullying. Whenever I asked him if things were okay he would always say "normal," and that was it."
It was only when Ragoo's son was ready to leave Form Five that he confessed to his mother all that had been going on over the years. Like any mother Ragoo was angry upon hearing the news. She chose to convert the negative emotion into something positive and wrote Cries of Victims and Bullies. The book defines bullying, explores the characteristics of the bullies and the victims and also delves into cyber bullying. Ragoo also gives tips to parents, principals, teachers, guidance counsellors and bystanders on dealing with bullies.
Writing the book, Ragoo said in her author's note, proved to be a "wonderful challenge for her."
"Every line in this book represents my love towards my children and ultimately seeks to help all other children who are in the category of victim, bully or bystander."
She added that she chose to keep the book concise so that more people would read it.
Ragoo, whose first outing as a writer was the e-book Twelve tips on building a better marriage, said too many times parents are busy making ends meet to even notice that their children are living a nightmare.
"(My Son) endured a tax system; if he did not pay his "taxes" (money to the bullies), he would have to endure being beaten before his lunch," Ragoo wrote in her book.
Embarrassment of being bullied, the fear of further physical or psychological abuse, the humiliation of what bullies say and the feeling of selling out are some of the reasons why victims maintain a code of silence. Some of the signs of bullying, as identified in Ragoo's book, include nightmares, anxiety and low self-esteem. The child is always hungry after school and claims to have lost lunch money or may say he is ill or doesn't want to go back to school.
With the advancement of technology, bullying today is more different than in Ragoo's day.
"Cyber bullying is a fast-growing trend that experts believe is more harmful than typical schoolyard bullying. Victims can be reached anytime and anyplace. Items and photos posted on any social website can destroy the victim's reputation overnight."
From her discussions with victims of cyber-bullying, Ragoo said, cyber-bullies are more obnoxious and bolder given the anonymity of the Internet.
In writing The Cries of Victims and Bullies, Ragoo spoke not just to victims but parents and bullies.
"The challenge was getting the victims to speak the truth. It was hard for them to open up. "
"Some bullies"," Ragoo" said, "are themselves bullied by an abusive parent, guardian or older relative and hurt others as a way of expressing their own hurt."
To the bullies, Ragoo advised that they follow the "Golden Rule" of doing unto others as they would have them do unto them.
"Listen to your inner voice that reminds you of the difference between right and wrong. "
The married mother of two also recommended prayer to bullies who may want to change.
"God has the power to forgive us completely and to make mighty changes within us."
Ragoo insists that her book was not meant to wage a war on bullies but rather to alert parents and teachers to the signs that their children are victims of bullying and how the problem should be dealt with.
Her advice for principals included scheduling of teachers for after school supervision of students waiting for their parents, the hosting of workshops for teachers and parents on handling bullying and the development of effective bullying policies.
Ragoo is already doing research for part two of The Cries of Victims and Bullies and said it will feature two chapters on respect.
She is also working on two other books Ten Commandments of True Customer Service and How to Develop Life Skills in Teenagers and Children.
"These books are just a fraction of my dream. In time I hope to do motivational speaking, writing and philanthropic work on a full time basis."
"Crime prevention starts in our schools and bully is one of the main causes of school violence, that is why it is so important to treat with this problem (for both the victims and bullies) in a holistic manner.
"Part of the solution to bullying is to get together and work as a community to stop this horrible nightmare. Everyone has a responsibility to stop intimidation."
The Cries of Victims and Bullies
is available at all branches of Nigel R Khan Booksellers and from Sally Ragoo at