Bullies are heavy on my mind and heart these days.
So its time to revisit this post.
Help "Stop the Mean."
Pure and simple...Bullies Suck.
Over the last two years,
my family has had to deal with bullies on many levels.
Yeah, don't be fooled, bullies are not always kids...
there are adult bullies, dad bullies, boss bullies, coach bullies, teacher bullies,
mom bullies, cyber bullies, and blog bullies.
I am by no means that happy-go-lucky person that thinks the whole world is great and you can solve a problem with a smile, but I absolutely see no reason why on earth people need to be so awful to others. I watched the movie Bully earlier this year and cried the entire time, but kept watching because it is an important message that cannot and should not be ignored. And honestly, I think I watched out of shock and horror and disbelief and sadness that this level of bullying does exist and the impact it has on the lives of everyone involved.
Then I started to think about my own life and if I was ever bullied. At first I thought no way, I was not bullied and then I stopped and realized I was. And guess what..I remember every detail, the kid's name, what class it was in, what year in high school, where I sat, where he sat, and what he used to say. And guess what...from what I hear...this man is still a bully. It was crazy for me to think that for all these years I never even realized that was what was going on or connected the dots until now.
Maybe it is because of my personal experiences, maybe because I have a very black and white approach to right and wrong and just cannot comprehend why anyone needs to be so mean to anyone else, maybe because as much as I will tell you that I am not a nice person...I really am. But, no matter what the answer is, as a parent I teach my son and daughter how to be kind, polite, and respectful to others. I have always taught them that they do not need to be everyone's friends, but they do need to be kind and they may not hurt another with words or actions. Of course I realize they are kids and mistakes will happen, but I do think they understand the difference between being a bullying and making a simple mistake.
Sadly, my son is having to deal with the issue of being bullied. I will be honest, at first I thought, he should deal with it - "Just tell the kid to knock it off"...or to leave it be...or that it would work itself out...and then - thankfully quickly, I came to the realization that I was wrong in my approach to this issue. My son is still learning and developing like all of these kids are and I need to show him how to deal with these awful situations. How to take control of his own life and well being when there are others who want to hurt you mentally or physically.(and maybe as a by-product, the bullies will get some guidance and the help they need to grow into productive teenagers and adults)
I am not going to speak directly of what has transpired in my family at this point, because my point is more this...As a community we have to watch out for each other. We have to teach our children to watch out for each other and to be an advocate for other kids as well. I explained to my son that I was not backing down from this issue for two reasons:
#1- it is my job to parent, protect, and care for him.
#2 - As a member of my community (and heck of the human race) I feel the responsibility to the other kids out there who may not suffer in silence, who may not have a parent that will take action, who may have a parent who does not understand how to take action. I explained that his father and myself are here to advocate for him and some kids just do not have that, so I would not back down or drop this issue. And, that said, if he should see this other child or any other child harassing anyone, he should tell them to knock it off, go IMMEDIATELY to a school authority and tell me.
I totally get that it could be daunting to stand up to a bully on your own. To prevent bullying, we have to speak up for others as well. We have to show the bullies they cannot do this to anyone. When this latest incident happened, it was right after the final period of the day and there were many other kids around...and guess what...as this kid bullied my child, the others around did NOT ONE THING. I do not expect middle-schoolers to be perfect or always do the right thing...but the fact that so many kids were around and no one said a dang thing, even a simple "knock it off," is incomprehensible.
Even after all of this...I am still baffled by the "art of bullying." No one is better than anyone else. We are all special and unique in our own way and the best way to create a community and a safe environment is to embrace these changes, and while we are not all going to be friends, we do need to be respectful to one another.
Talk to your children. Ask them questions. Do not let it be. My son just casually mentioned his issues at dinner time. You would have though he was talking about his math homework...it was very nonchalant.
Tell your children to report any bullying they see to a respected adult, a school authority, a parent, or in a sever case, call the police. If your child or another child comes to you, do something - listen and act accordingly (even if your first instinct is not to act accordingly). This simple gesture can change someones life.
Finally, don't be fooled - anyone can be a bully.
Bullies exist - always have, always will.
I have seen coaches bully kids.
I have seen bloggers bully one another.
I have been bullied by other mothers.
No matter who it is it in not acceptable or OK.