Just typing the word makes me a tiny bit angry. It brings to mind all the things I don’t like. I was never seriously bullied when I was young, but I was quite shy and insecure. I still don’t like confrontation much these days and will go out of my way to avoid it.
I am writing this post, partly because my son said I should (we discussed bullying), and partly because it helps get my thoughts in order if I put them down.
My son was teased at school rather than bullied, other kids says silly thing and as he is quite sensitive he takes them to heart. Try as I might to tell him that ‘Sticks and stones may break his bones but words will never hurt you’, it still affects him, no two ways about it.
Anytime we are in a situation where somebody says something that just isn’t true, I try to point it out to him saying, you see? Somebody said something that obviously isn’t true, so it can and should be ignored, but it is of little solace. He is still hurt by what others think and say. He is learning as he grows, but it is a very slow process.
We try to put things in perspective, like, saying look at how easily he makes friends and how others like him generally and how the bully boys (and girls) don’t seem to have many friends and are hurting inside, they just don’t know how to express themselves and are basically looking for attention, even negative attention. It is how they think life is, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
I am convinced it is partly because of their home life. Not because they have bad parents/grandparents, but life is hard and people sometimes just don’t realise the way they act and do things affects everyone around them and kids copy and learn the bad habits as much as the good habits.
Gosh, what do I know? I am no psychiatrist, but I have my own theories.
What I don’t like is the fact that even though in Belgium there seems to be a huge awareness program going on in all the schools (posters, workshops, programs, stickers etc), there is still a lot of bullying going on. I guess as kids navigate their way through school and early life, trying out different strategies for coping in a rough playground or with strong personalities amongst their peers, it is somehow inevitable some plying for position and some sort of recognition amongst your peers will be present.
But when it turns nasty and kids get beaten or abused physically, then it should be nipped in the bud. Why oh why do some schools try to sweep it under the carpet? Are the anti-bullying programs just for show? Why are parents not contacted? Or even the police? Or the organisations that are supposed to regulate this type of thing? I don’t think they are doing enough, personally. Perception or the truth? I don’t know, I wish I did.
I have experienced close friends who have gone through bullying recently and I don’t understand why it is not taken more seriously. I am frustrated and wish I could do more to help. I have offered but I can’t interfere willy nilly. I am there if they need to talk I guess.
There is also the flip side where you might think that it helps kids grow, to be able to handle tough situations that you might experience as an adult. We all certainly deal with aggressive people when older. But maybe (am I naive here?) if bullying was caught when young, maybe adults wouldn’t turn out being bullies when older? Just my thoughts.
And what about kids who witness bullying but just stand around doing nothing, maybe even taking photo’s or videos? The logical part of me tells me that they don’t want to get involved for fear of retribution at a later date or but I think that should also be part of what it taught in schools. How to deal with people who bully others. I know they are told to tell a teacher or other responsible adult, but usually the bullying incident is over by the time this is done and everyone denies it.
I guess i’ll just have to read this Wikipedia entry and see if I can distill it for my kids so they can absorb it and at least understand the dynamics and realise it is not them, not their fault, nothing to do with who they are. They can be whoever they want. I just don’t want them to be a victim.