Tuesday, June 19 , 2018, 7:19 pm | Fair 66º


Local News

Santa Barbara Teen Pens ‘The Survival Guide to Bullying’

Aija Mayrock, now a freshman at NYU, started writing the book at age 16, drawing on her own experiences of being bullied

Sitting in the comfort of her Santa Barbara family’s home, Aija Mayrock vividly remembers seeing a news report about a local teen taking his own life because of bullying.

Sixteen at the time, and still new to the area after moving from New York two years earlier, Mayrock burst into tears.

Not because she knew the young boy, but because she used to be him.

Kids had teased Mayrock since the third grade, calling her ugly, fat, stupid and worthless — words she soon learned couldn’t be further from the truth.

She was able to see past the devastating, frustrating in-person and online comments — some from students who didn’t even know her personally — by relying on supportive family and discovering her passion for acting, writing and filmmaking at age 14, when she entered and won a contest at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

“What can I do?” she thought, feeling pain for the boy and others like him.

What originally was going to be a video PSA turned into 10 chapters of a book Mayrock began penning at age 16.

This month, her self-published The Survival Guide to Bullying: Written by a kid for a kid hit the e-book shelves, just in time for National Bullying Prevention Month. The pages come out in print in a couple weeks.

“I realized this was such a great device,” said Mayrock, who just turned 19 and graduated from Anacapa School in June. “This was my gift to the next generation of kids. I am still a kid and wrote it when I was a kid.”

In her guide, Mayrock talks to a psychologist, parents, teachers and students, looking at remedies and tips to not only survive but also thrive.

Referring to the book as a kid’s “roadmap, flashlight or friend,” Mayrock said she designed it not as a novel or memoir, but as an accessible book that can be opened to any page to instantly inspire with a personal anecdote, advice or “roem” — rap poem.

Mayrock is a freshman at NYU’s film school, but will be taking a year off after completing summer classes to start a book tour. She hopes to visit as many schools as she can, with plans to speak at Dos Pueblos High School, Marymount and more in Southern California and on the East Coast.

Anyone interested in her presentation can email [email protected].

Mayrock has already seen some great feedback on a book she hopes will help others as much as writing it helped her.

“It’s a tremendous healing for me,” she said. “It was a blessing in a very horrible disguise.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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