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dedicationBefore the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in December 2012, there was another school shooting that hit close to home for me — literally.

On Feb. 27, 2012, a troubled 17-year-old young man opened fire in the cafeteria of Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, not far from where I grew up. Three students died, and two others were injured.

I don’t pretend to know what led the shooter to do what he did, and I can’t imagine (and don’t want to, frankly) the pain of the families and friends of the victims.

Neither do I know what it’s like to be truly bullied, but there’s not a single person who’s made it through childhood unscathed. And sadly, bullying doesn’t end when you turn 18.

While it’s not the central theme in Shrapnel, it definitely shapes one of the characters and skews her view of the world. It affects how she deals with other people her age, and contributes to how she views herself.

Obviously I don’t want to be preachy, but bullying is something I absolutely cannot and will not tolerate. I’ve seen it happen. I’ve seen the look in the victim’s eyes that’s both fear and hate. A number of times, I’ve stepped in and attempted to neutralize the situation, but too many times I was a coward and did nothing.

I think we can all agree that it’s got to stop. Both the bullying and the extreme revenge exacted by some of the victims.

If you see something, report it. If you know someone who could use a friend or a helping hand, be that person. Whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together.