Bully For You

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’.

  8 comments for “Bully For You

  1. November 19, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Yep, you’re just saying, just saying what we all need to be reminded. Thank you.

    You know that I’m always “Just saying.” 😉

  2. November 19, 2008 at 10:09 am

    Well, call me old fashioned- but I always say there are no bad kids; just lousy parents. It may be oversimplifying a bit, but you get the idea. Parents need to set the example AND participate in their kids’ lives.

    Thornes last blog post..A Day Without Gays

    Well, I must disagree…sometimes there are “bad kids.” We do have to set examples and participate in their lives—and “listen!” But, there are other influences on our kids these days…and sometimes a parent just doesn’t have control. I think the whole village has to get into the act.

  3. November 19, 2008 at 10:18 am

    Awwww, c’mon, you’re taking all the fun out of poking fun 😉
    The bullying problem is and can be awful. I almost had to change my daughter’s school a few years back because of the problems she was having with a girl bully. It wasn’t just being picked on, this girl was threatening her life. It would continue at home through phone calls, the internet, etc. When I called this girls parents, I got the “kids will be kids” speech. I don’t know, my kids aren’t like that. Nice article Shelly!

    Jessica The Rock Chicks last blog post..Eye Can See Clearly Now

    “Poking fun” is different than bullying (but can easily escalate!). The internet bullying scares me more than anything! Dr. Phil interviewed some bullies who had gone to a girl’s MySpace, hacked it, and put awful stuff. They said that now they could see it was wrong (of course because they got caught). But, at the time they did it, it didn’t seem “personal.” OMG. What have we done to our kids?

  4. November 19, 2008 at 11:19 am

    I remember bullies as well. Even as I’m reading your post, I’m wondering what people really are allowed to do with bullies. People that are bullied can ignore them, but what else can they do?

    Ugh it makes me mortified that people (namely the bully’s parents) could say that things like this don’t affect others. It’s not harmless at all!

    Derek Wongs last blog post..Doing It On My Own

    It isn’t harmless. Not at all. And, I wish I knew an answer to the question of “what else can they do?” Fighting isn’t the answer…I just don’t know what is. Unfortunately, bullying is such a widespread phenomena (and, as you pointed out–sort of “accepted”). Sigh. Maybe all we can do is talk about it and hope?

  5. November 19, 2008 at 6:14 pm

    I love the “not my child” and then when the parents of the kids being bullied start calling the school, they say that their kids are being picked on.

    The best comeuppance that I heard second hand was a mom who worked in the middle school finding out that her “sweet son” (NOT) was named over 30 times in a school outing application as being the one student that you wouldn’t want to bunk with. Not many would step up face to face, but give them a way to stay away from the bully and they all put his name down.
    My oldest went through it the worst, but it made his brothers tougher. I hate bullying.

    Jennymcbs last blog post..Recipe Clean Up – When it’s Time to Let Go

    Hate bullying? You and I both! I still think the best way to teach our kids is by example…and I’m mortified by the way the last election was all about picking on each other. When we bite into it, we are just teaching our kids that it’s ok to do that. I’d be curious to know how you handled the bullying your oldest son endured! It might help some other momma in the same situation.

  6. November 19, 2008 at 7:26 pm

    We’re in the midst of fifth grade girl bullying right now. It’s just the seedlings of bullying at this point, but it’s enough for me to raise holy hell about it.

    patoiss last blog post..Wordy Wednesday #37: Piercing

    I’m sorry you are having to deal with it! 5th grade does seem to be a ripe time for that bullying, since the kids are beginning to “change” physically…and that causes a lot of insecurities (both on the part of the bully and the victim). There isn’t really a good answer…just keep your eyes and ears open. Make sure that your child is communicating with you, so you know what’s going on with her. And, if you let her have a MySpace blog, watch it like a hawk! Cyber bullying is on the rise, and it can be devastating!

  7. November 19, 2008 at 7:56 pm

    Points made, very well chosen too I might add. My Mom always told me “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” And she got that from her mother who probably got it from her Mother too and maybe it goes back for centuries. But we now know that perhaps the last line there maybe should be changed to read “Names may harm me more!” Verbal abuse is much subtler as it leaves no visible marks on the outside but plants lots of marks and scars on the inside of the recipient. Yes, we can -change!

    Verbal abuse IS pretty darned powerful. And, when we adults heap it on political candidates during a nasty election, I think we send messages to the young that “it’s really OK to make fun of people sometimes.” It’s never “OK.”

  8. November 20, 2008 at 4:59 am

    Hello Shelly, bulling is a problem all over the world, http://tierradenomadas.blogspot.com/2008/10/agresion-y-amenazas-contra-mi-hija.html
    This is from a friend of mine. It´s in spanish, but you can translate it.
    P.S. I have not forget about the medicine bags. I hope you´ll heard somethig about me soon.

    Lolas last blog post..Olor a Cuba

    Hi Lola, Yes…bullying has ALWAYS been a problem. I read your friend’s web page, although Babel fish doesn’t do it justice, I am sure. How frightening for her daughter (and for her). What infuriates me is when people excuse the behavior by saying, “Oh, they are just being kids.” I hope your friend’s daughter gets some justice!

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