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Bullying Part 4: The Second Story and an Overview

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Bullying Part 4: The Second Story and an Overview

I said I wanted to share two stories and the second one is Nico's. When Nico was in 2nd grade someone was bullying him at recess. It made the hairs on the back of my neck stand up listening to him tell me what was going on and the mother bear in me wanted to march right over to the kid and give him a piece of my mind. I kept thinking, what can I do to make sure that the same thing doesn't happen to him? I tried to remember everything my parents said to make me feel better. I asked if he wanted me to talk to the boy's mom and he said no. Even at that young of an age, he knew that if I did, the bully might get madder. I told him that people bully because they get away with it and that if he stood up for himself, they'd leave him alone. He looked at me like it was a crazy idea to stand up to a 5th grader. It was my good luck that a few days after Nico told me, I ran into the bully and his mom at Target. A thought struck me (besides the one to go up to him and tell him to leave my kid the hell alone).  I asked them both if they had ever dealt with bullies. The mom looked at her son and asked him and he said, "no." I said, "Oh, ok. I heard there was some bullying happening at recess and wondered if you guys heard anything." The kid looked at me with a white face and huge eyes and I knew that he got the message: If you think no one knows what you are doing, you're wrong. I know. A few days after that, Nico came home from school excited. "I did it! I did it! The bully took my hat and I went up to him and grabbed it back and said, 'Don't take my hat! Leave me alone!' Then he said, 'Sorry' and asked me if I wanted to play basketball. You were right!" It was one of the times I breathed a sigh of relief that something I said worked.

Since then, bullying is a constant topic of conversation in this house. It's not enough to not just bully someone. It would be best if kids stuck up for other kids but I know going up against bullies is a hard thing to do. I tell my kids that if they can, to do that but if they are afraid, at the very least, befriend the kids that are getting picked on. They need support and just being their friend might make them feel a little better. There is strength in numbers and maybe if the mean kids see that the kids that are getting picked on had friends, they would leave them alone. I tell my kids to tell an adult so that their parents can be notified but you'd be surprised at how many parents don't want to hear that it is happening to their kid (the victim) or make excuses for why their kid behaves the way they do (the bully). I told Nico if he ever saw someone being bullied and was afraid to step in, to go tell a teacher. He did and then the bully got in trouble and was even meaner so he said he didn't want to do that again. Schools are trying to make it better but their hands are tied if kids don't come forward and kids are still afraid of the consequences of coming forward. It's just not an easy thing because even if you know right from wrong, doing the right thing sometimes has crappy consequences.

This is a subject that strikes a chord with everyone. You'd be hard pressed to find someone that has never dealt with bullying, either with themselves or with their kids. Those of us that have kids, we raise them and we protect them and make sure that they stay safe and know that they are loved and accepted for who they are. Before they go to school, they make us laugh with their antics and little personalities that we think are adorable. Then they go to school and what we think is cute and this little ray of sunshine, some kid who is unhappy or uncomfortable with themselves, tells our kid that they are weird or dumb or slow or not good at something that they are really trying hard to be good at. It's heartbreaking and the only thing we can do is keep trying to build them up and believe for them until they are strong enough to believe in themselves.

Bullying has a way of having a trickle down effect. When you are made fun of or criticized, it's hard not to get angry and snap at the closest thing around you. You feel out of control having someone push you around so you find something to push. It's a human reaction. I think about that and wonder, did I make anyone feel the way those girls made me feel? It makes me sick to think that I might have. I hope that I went the other way and was nice to people even if I wasn't friends with them. In high school, I was friends with a lot of different people from different "crowds" but I was so busy being "in love" that I don't remember dealing with bullies or even seeing any bullying other than what the guys I was dating did with their friends or teammates (they insisted it was all in good fun but I hated watching them give each other a hard time). I know it went on because it always does and I wonder, if I did see it, would I have done something about it? I know that depends on the situation but I'd like to think I would have.

I have been getting a lot of feedback about this and I love that I am and that I have given some of you out there a voice but am sad that so many people have dealt with it. So I ask you readers, what more can we do to make sure we are teaching our kids right from wrong about this issue? How do we equip them to know what to do if it is happening to them or around them and are we talking about it enough at home?


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