Would you be embarrassed to discover that your child was known as the class bully? I don’t know about y’all, but I would be mortified! I would hope that I could raise my children to be sensitive to the feelings of others.
Recently, a librarian friend asked me if I knew any stories about “bullies” to tell to her 3rd grade classes. It seems they were having a problem with some of the kids. She, of course, wanted stories that showed a bully getting his comeuppance. Folk tales dealing with that subject abound. Those old stories were often used to teach children the behavior that was expected of them. I was able to find what she needed.
A “bully,” in my definition, is “someone who tries to build his own ego by making another person feel small.” Bullies prey on the weaknesses of others. If their bullying gets laughter (“approval”) from their peers, the bullies often accelerate their attacks. It can be devastating for the person being bullied.
I remember bullies from childhood. Do you? I was bullied because I was skinny, my sister was ridiculed because she was not. A friend of mine was mocked for being “brainy, another caught fire for not being the “sharpest knife in the drawer.” Those bullies targeted anyone who was “different” from the pack in any way.
The news media is abuzz these days about an “epidemic” of bullying in the schools. Some of it accelerates to the point that there are children who have taken their own lives rather than continue to be subjected to the ridicule. An epidemic? Why am I not surprised?
Imagine how you would feel if you found out about the ridicule heaped on the new girl at your child’s school. She was from some town in Alaska with a strange sounding name. All the kids’ mocked her speech and mimicked her actions. They made jokes about “mooseburgers” and called her “a pit bull with lipstick.” Everyone taunted her because her clothes were donated to her. When she didn’t get the correct answer quickly enough in class, the other students jeered.
Buncha bullies…you betcha.
How would you react if you saw a group of teenagers harassing an old man? They teased him mercilessly about his mannerisms. They cracked jokes about Metamucil. Any time he forgot a name, they made jokes about senility. Just because of his age they ridiculed him.
If I saw that, I’d be on those bullies as quickly as a duck jumps on a June bug, my friends.
I would be livid if I found a group of children making fun of a peer because of his skin color. Or, if they mocked his “funny name,” or his circle of friends.
That’s just not right. And, we can change it, yes we can. We can set an example. All the folk tales in the world won’t change a child’s behavior if he is busy mimicking his parent’s actions.
I’m just sayin’.