Thursday, April 24, 2008

Bullies Among Us

More and more every day we hear about bullying in schools. We wonder why children are so mean to each other. What sets a child on the road to becoming a bully. What makes this child feel that he or she has to intimidate other kids? Is something lacking in this child's homelife? Do the parents bully each other? What can parents do to help their children? Are parents part of the problem?

When I was in school kids seemed to like to make fun of me. I guess this could be considered bullying. I was a small child who wore glasses, had buck teeth and my last name rhymed with "tomater". So you can just imagine the words and laughter I heard. Many times I cried because I felt hurt by these kids. None of this was physical, but the words stung just as much. What did my parents tell me? They suggested that I either laugh with them or just ignore what they said. As a shy child this was hard to do. In one form or another this went on even in to high school. As a sophomore, two football players in my English class made fun of me by calling me Oswald because of the books I chose to read for book reports. I knew that the teacher would give better grades if the students chose harder, classic books like "Ivanhoe" or "Wuthering Heights".As a teen this bothered me even more than it did in grammer school. I was sick to my stomach every morning. What did my parents say? The same thing they said before or find something in common with them that we could talk about with each other. It was hard for me to get up the courage to laugh at their comments and even harder to try to talk to them. But eventually I did because I never let on what I really felt and learned to focus on them instead.

My older daughter had a run in with a girl in high school. She was frustrated in much the same way I was. I suggested, as my parents did, to laugh with the other girl. I told her that if that girl knew she wasn't going to fall into the trap she would probably stop because the game was over. It worked. They became friends.

Some how parents have to take more notice of what kids are doing. It is worse today than it was when I was in school. Not only do kids bully in person they can do it from cyberspace and on the phone. Why is it so hard for parents and kids to talk to each other? People are not always going to get along or even like each other. But they will have to get along. Parents can help. But maybe they need to learn how. It is not hard. Pay attention, listen, speak, help.


Anonymous said...

Bullying has always happened and always will. As a rule, the person doing the bullying needs the feelings of superiority. HAving a bit more self-worth would slow things down a bit.

This is what I tell my students: Think of how sad it would be if being mean to other people was the only thing that made you feel important.

Unknown said...

Good point!

bettygram said...

I was the odd duck in school.I also was very shy. I made a few friends and egnored the others. There was a time when I was in the 6th grade that I was the bully. I remembered that just lately. There was a girl I picked on and I can't remember why. I even asked a boy to beat her up. It didn't happen. I have been trying to understand it now.

dmarks said...

"Think of how sad it would be if being mean to other people was the only thing that made you feel important."

It happens in out in the real world, too. That description seems to fit both Rush Limbaugh AND Al Franken.

Bazza said...

As part of my job, I work with bullied kids and it seems, no matter what is tried it just won't go away. Quilly is right, but unfortunately bullies usually surround themselves with hangers on and are often seen as glamorous. We also live in a world where increasingly, winning is seen as everything, I'd better go now before I get carried away!