According to stopbullying.gov between one in four and one in three students in the U.S. say they have been bullied at school, with most bullying taking place in middle school.
One local 10-year-old decided to tackle her own experiences with bullying by co-authoring a book that empowers those who share her experience.
Jaia Davis, along with her mother Tondra Davis, co-authored the book I am F.A.T., a short story that empowers it readers to turn cruel remarks into encouraging mantras.
“I wrote it because I got bullied and it was just so miserable for me that I wrote it because I didn’t want anyone else to have to go through what I did,” Jaia Davis said. “They could use the techniques that I learned so that they wouldn’t hurt as much as I did.”
After coming home crushed from being bullied at school and called fat, Davis’s mother encouraged her to turn the insults into positive acronyms, for example, fat being Fabulous, Awesome, and Terrific.
“It was a way to help her heal from the whole process,” Tondra Davis said. “I experienced bullying at her age and I knew that those words can get stuck and anger can build up, so this was also an outlet to help her be able to release all of that. But I find that after writing a book and going around and talking about it, she was super positive.”
In addition to telling the story of that day, I am F.A.T features two poems Tondra wrote for her daughter as well as an alphabetical chart featuring empowering words for each letter that readers can use to turn their own experiences into motivation.
Davis says she’s received overwhelming support for her book.
“There’s this one boy, he reads my book every single day on the way to school when his mom is driving him to school,” she said. “When I heard him say that, that just really touched my heart. I was like,‘Wow. People really like my book.’”
As result, Jaia Davis has been giving readings of her book at local schools and community spaces.
Despite her own experience, Davis is always surprised to see how many kids are bullied.
“I was surprised to see how many people were being bullied. I know it’s a big problem, but I didn’t know it was that big,” she said. She often asks if kids in the audience have experienced bullying when she does speaking engagements. “A lot of hands just shoot up all over the place and I’m like, ‘whoa’, that is a lot of people.”
Her book hasn’t just affected kids, but adults as well.
“Although it’s written for youth, I’ve had adults read it who said it helped them,” Tondra said. “You know, it’s like, it helps me now, I was bullied.”
Jaia has sold over 400 copies of her book since publishing it in July.
Each book costs $12.66 and 70 percent of the profit goes to Jaia Davis’ college fund. It’s available for purchase at http://divinitypublications.com/.
Jaia says she hopes her work has shown others that they can write a book and tackle large issues too.
“It makes me feel good knowing that they’re others in the community that can do what I’ve done too,” she said. “Like to help other people, then other people can help other people, and then the cycle just continues. Eventually, bam, bye-bye bullying”
Davis will be speaking at the Wisconsin Historical Society for Black History Month on February 3.