As a child, I was bullied. Nothing too terribly bad, just some name-calling and teasing. Good-natured ribbing, as they used to say. When my father was in school, he was told, “It helps build character!” I never saw the character-building aspect of name-calling. Maybe it helped me develop a thick skin so that dealing with a bully wouldn’t bother me as much. If that’s the case, then damn, did I get a lot of character building growing up!
All kidding aside, dealing with a bully is still a serious issue. One that doesn’t feel we know how to handle properly. You can find many articles relating to this all over the internet.
Physical & Psychological bullying
Others had it a lot worse than I did. I remember walking down the halls in Junior High School, and a smaller kid was at his locker. For no reason whatsoever, another student came up from behind him and slammed his head into the locker. What was the consequence? Nothing. No-one stopped to make sure the boy was ok or stop the bully from the unprovoked attack. That’s just how it was back then. If you went to a teacher to complain, nothing would happen unless you were bleeding, and if you are, the nurse gives you a band-aid and sent back to class.
Today, dealing with a bully is not just physical. Back in the day, wedgies were considered the leading edge of bullying. Today, social media has become the latest outlet. Kids will post embarrassing photos or a story to hurt someone. These emotional attacks cause far more damage than any Wedgie or Wet Willy. They leave lasting scars that, if not treated, can lead to serious psychological harm. An insult may not seem like much, but it is brutal to a child who has low self-esteem.
|Hitting/Kicking/Punching||Teasing||Leaving someone out on purpose|
|Spitting||Name calling||Telling other people not to be friends with someone|
|Tripping/pushing||Inappropriate sexual comments||Spreading rumors|
|Taking or breaking someone’s things||Taunting||Embarrassing someone in public|
|Making mean or rude hand gestures||Threatening to cause harm|
Teaching them the right way
Is there a right way to help a child deal with a bully? Reacting with violence is not the answer. Ignoring the taunts and insults only lets the bully know they can continue with no repercussions from the victim. If the child does say anything, the worst will happen the bully gets detention and moves on. There is no follow up for the bullied child, and the bully often thinks the punishment is worth the crime.
A friend’s daughter in Junior High School is a victim of a bully. When she told her mother, she contacted the school to find out what they plan on doing. They said all they could do is ask her daughter if she is ok every day. That’s it. She did not know what punishment the bully received or if any counseling services are available. They are left to deal with this mostly on their own.
I don’t understand why the school is so limited in what they can do. I found no set standards for a school district to have a psychologist or counselor on-site in my research. My friends’ school had neither. My sister is a teacher, and there is one therapist available for all schools in that district. One person for several schools, each with hundreds of children.
Teach the Teachers
Most teachers are not trained properly to handle these kinds of situations. They have enough on their hands with thirty plus kids per classroom that often kids are not given the attention they need. Teachers need to be trained to handle both the bully and the victim. Or at least add a trained professional to help. We can’t stop the children from bullying others. That would be like trying to stop a bursting dam with a toothpick. But we can prepare our teachers a little better to help deal with the situation.
A bullied child will often not say anything out of embarrassment or shame. The only time the parents find out is when the school contacts them, as in the case with my friend. This does NOT make them a bad parent, only misinformed.
Violence does not solve this problem!!!
When I was young, I never told my parents that I was being bullied. The only time they did know about an incident was when I came home with a bloody nose. I stood up to the bully with violence and got my ass kicked. My parents talked to his parents, and the next day the bully threatened me again because his father beat him. And then my brothers were threatening him as well. A violent act does not require a violent act to resolve the situation.
Ignoring the situation is just as worse as the bully learns he can torment his victim without repercussions. Some say hit the bully once, and he will respect you and leave you alone. They prefer targets that don’t fight back. I never once saw a bully get hit by their victim, get up, shake hands, and walk away. Maybe that happens in the movies and on television, but not in real life.
Things you can do at home
- For parents, sit down with your child and get them to talk about what’s going on. A bullied child will often not say anything out of embarrassment, shame, or fear. Show them that dealing with a bully is not a scary thing.
- Church groups are excellent ways of surrounding your child in a positive environment.
- Talk to your child about handling their fears. Everyone has one fear or another, and helping your child understand that will go along way.
- Let them know that walking away from a bully is not a cowardly thing.
- Sign up for team sports. Building social skills will help!
- Teach your child that most often, the one doing the bullying is someone crying out for help.
Do the best you can
In a perfect world, dealing with a bully would be treated as a life-lesson at an early age, and we would all get along beautifully. But Disney does not rule the universe, so we must live in reality.
Yes, I know this sounds like a Happily Ever After kind of thing, and this will not work for every situation, but maybe this can turn into a good thing. Grievances are aired, discoveries are made, tears are shed, and wounds begin to heal. You never know, the two may end up as fast friends and show the rest of their classmates that we can indeed all get along.
Wow, that really does sound like a Disney Happily Ever After kind of thing, and I feel an urge to sing Kumbaya. I’d better end this now before my inner hippie takes over.