When I was in school, I was lucky enough to be an introverted gal who was comfortable placed in the middle of social standings. This means I didn’t really fit in anywhere in particular and, for the most part, people got along relatively well with me.
I was a chameleon of sorts.
But all these back to school posts on bullying I’m reading on various social media sites have me thinking back on my school experience.
At times, I was bullied. Not in any horrible fashion. People picked on me. Luckily I was blessed with this “I don’t really give a rats ass what you think” mentality when it came to my self worth, but it was still something that filled me with anxiety. No one likes being picked on. No one likes attention being drawn to them in a demeaning way… even when they know what’s being said or done isn’t right or fair.
I don’t know, I guess my parents did something right. I knew I wasn’t someone who deserved to be picked on. I was a good person, I tried my very best to be kind to everyone I encountered, but sometimes people are mean. Period. So, please… do talk about bullying. Do tell your children it’s not right to belittle or physically harm someone. Even if someone is mean or belittling to them. There is no excuse for bullying.
There is never reason to call someone else fat or ugly or stupid. Never.
But it’s also important to talk to your kids about why someone might be a bully. Bullies are not usually born that way. Most healthy, functioning children are fully capable of being kind and caring people, but they won’t develop into a kind and caring person without proper guidance.
That girl who has everything? Maybe her parents don’t care what she does and so she acts out in every way she can think of to try and get some kind of attention. Or maybe she doesn’t know how to treat others with kindness because she never witnessed it from her parents. Maybe she is simply unaware that the world is difficult for some people and she is incredibly blessed… maybe she was never taught this by her parents.
That jock who makes fun of your scrawny arms? He might be insecure about his own abilities. Maybe he fears his worth is dependent only on his physical performance. Perhaps he doesn’t value his entire self because he fears no one else does.
That bully that corners you and threatens you and hits you might be abused at home. Or maybe they have anger management problems and need help finding a healthier outlet for their energy. Or maybe be they fear being “stuck” in a dead end existence because they don’t think they’re good enough or smart enough for anything other than intimidation and confrontation.
So please, talk to your children about bullying. And assure them that they are worthy of respect. They need to be kind, even when others aren’t. And they need to involve an adult if they feel uncomfortable handling a bully or situation by themselves.
And remember that school bullies are children too, often in need of guidance and supervision. A bully may be a victim too — a message that gets lost far too often when condensing a thought to 140 characters or less.
Also, parents, try not to look too gleeful while doing the back to school shopping and preparations. Your kids do not appreciate it.