advert

Can Bullying Be Stopped?

Dec22

by

When I was in school, a long long time ago, there were two schools of thought on how to deal with bullies:

1) Ignore them
2) Run away

I do not think in the history of the world that either of those have ever been effective.

Bullying is everywhere in the news. Over and over again I read stories of children being picked on and driven to suicide, and yet no one seems to have any sort of solution. We hear that bullies have low self-esteem. Wait, no, they have high self-esteem. They are just being kids. No, they are sociopaths.

You know what? I don’t care about the bullies.

I care about all the other kids. The ones who are witnessing it and choosing to do nothing. Why are they making that choice? Why do we allow that to be acceptable, to be an accessory to bullying?  Why aren’t we holding them accountable as well?

*****

When I was in sixth grade there was girl in my class who bullied me. Every day she would grab my arm with her left hand and punch me as hard as she could with her right hand. The blow would land on my upper arm, in that spot where there isn’t any muscle, or back then fat, to soften the punch.

For the entire school year I had identical black bruises on my arms.

No one ever asked about them.

I never told any adult. I didn’t want to tattle. I didn’t want to be labeled as the kid that was bullied. I didn’t want to tell my mother because I knew she would be upset. I didn’t want to carry that weight around, to be responsible for her disappointment.

Not one other kid in the class who witnessed it ever said anything. Not even the ones who were supposedly my best friends.

*****
Recently my 10 yr old son came to me.

Mom? Would you be mad if I got in trouble for standing up to a bully?

Of course not. Why?

No reason.

I continued prepping for dinner. I knew that there would be more to the story. I didn’t pepper him with questions. I was confident that as soon as he sorted it out in his little head he would tell me.

Mom? I kind of got yelled at today at practice.

Oh boy, what happened?

The story came tumbling out. Half the team was on the field going through some drills while the other half was having a water break. One of the bigger kids on the team was shoving one of the smaller kids down. Every time the smaller kid would get back up the bigger kid would shove him down, saying things like “I didn’t tell you to get back up.”

My son intervened. He told the big kid to knock it off. He told the kid that if he wanted to push someone around, to start with him. My son is not big. But what he lacks in size he makes up for with his sheer will and determination. Having four older and much bigger brothers doesn’t hurt either.

When the big kid lunged for him, my son grabbed the front of the kid’s jersey and flipped him onto the ground. The scene repeated itself a few times, or a few hundred times if you are to believe the version that was eventually told to his older brothers. The bigger kid was evidently not used to being on the receiving end of such treatment.

One of the coaches happened to look over and see my son throw the other kid to the ground. He was yelled at and made to run a lap. No, he didn’t tell the coach what was really going on, nor did any of the other boys. In the minds of children that would be tattling.   And to them tattling is a sin far greater than any other.

I knew you wouldn’t get mad at me, Mom.

I have emphasized to my children repeatedly, I would much rather have them come home and tell me they got in trouble for standing up for what is right, for taking a stand, for protecting someone, than come home and tell me they stood by and did nothing. Honestly, if they did the latter I would feel hugely disappointed, not just in them but in myself as their mother.

There will always be bullies in this world. You can’t stop that. But what you can control is the way you act. If everyone did that, called out the bullies instead of living in fear of retribution, bullying would come to an end. Stand up when you see someone being picked on, because the next time it could be you.

You know, Mom, what was weird?

What?

Once I pushed [big kid] down the first time, the other kids that were standing there told him to stop being a bully too. But before that they were just watching and doing nothing.

Sometimes, honey, it takes one person to step up first. Then other people feel brave enough too. They are afraid of being picked on.

Well, I’m not afraid.

I know you aren’t. I love that about you.

*****

My next year of school, seventh grade, I transferred to a different school. The bruises faded over the summer. At least the ones that were on the outside.

About the author

Chris Jordan

http://notesfromthetrenches.com
Chris Jordan began blogging at Notes From the Trenches in 2004 where she writes about her life raising her children in Austin, Texas.

Oh, she has seven of them. Yes, children.

Yes, they are all hers.

No she's not Catholic or Mormon. Though she wouldn’t mind having a sister-wife because holy hell the laundry never stops.

Yes, she finally figured out what causes it. That's why her youngest is almost 6.

Yes, she has a television.

She enjoys referring to herself in the third person.

If you would like to submit a question for Chris to answer publicly, please do so to adviceforparentsoftweens[at]gmail[dot]com.


Subscribe to posts by Chris Jordan

10 Responses to “Can Bullying Be Stopped?”

  1. Olivia Dec 22 at 2:28 pm Reply Reply

    I know it is incredibly hard for children to speak out against bullies, but if all of us parents encourage them from and early age, maybe at least one like your son will do it.

  2. Adriana Dec 26 at 8:26 pm Reply Reply

    You have a great kid.

  3. Vi Dec 29 at 2:05 pm Reply Reply

    I love this post! It’s heartwarming. You’ve raised great kids. I think that having a good support system is the key to not being bullied. And well, your kids are lucky, with 7 (I think?) kids, they will always have someone to back them up. And I think this gives them the inner strength they need to stand up.

  4. suzie Jan 03 at 2:04 pm Reply Reply

    Oh, what a great thing your son did. 

    When my now-7th grader was in 4th grade, a very close friendship turned sour, and devolved into the “mean girl” style of bullying.  My daughter had the worst year of her life.  

    I remember the worst of the horrible days – it had nothing to do with the friend-gone-bad, and everything to do with the *other* kids.  I’d started going to my daughter’s soccer practices with her (a block from our house, requiring me to leave work early) to help be sure everything was okay, and on this day – she spent the entire time alone.  None of her other friends had the guts to show her support, and they all flocked around the “mean” girl.  On our way home, she (maybe for the first time) broke down in tears, asking me “why don’t my friends help?  Why aren’t they standing up for me?”  It was one thing to lose the mean girl (for lack of a better term right now) as a friend, but was even worse to think that no one stood by her.

    Several of the others eventually told her that they were afraid of the other girl, and what would happen to them if they crossed her – yet knew that my daughter would not be mad at them, and would stay their friend.  

    I wished for nothing more than for others (kids and parents) to stand together to say that this was NOT okay.

    So, I wish my daughter had a friend like your son.

  5. M Jan 06 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    I used to be bullied as a kid. And in my first job. Since then, I made it my rule to always, always stand up for the bullied. You have a great son.

  6. Alison W Jan 14 at 6:05 pm Reply Reply

    “I would much rather have them come home and tell me they got in trouble for standing up for what is right, for taking a stand, for protecting someone, than come home and tell me they stood by and did nothing.”

    I couldn’t agree with this more! I hope I am raising my daughter to be the same.

  7. Kate Jan 14 at 6:06 pm Reply Reply

    I was picked on a lot in elementary school and although the teachers knew about it they didn’t do anything except not punish me when I would run out of the room to go hide in the library. There was one occasion where someone stood up for me though and it’s one of my best school memories. I was sharing a table with my best friend at the after school homework club and one of the bullies sat down and started bothering me (including kicking me under the table). When I complained to the “teacher” they told him to move and when he refused they told me I would have to move and that my friend couldn’t move with me. As I got up to move he made some smart remark that pushed me right over the edge and I kicked him. We both got sent to the principals office and when she heard the story she told he deserved it, kicked him out of the homework club, and declined to punish me at all.

  8. Becky Jan 14 at 7:36 pm Reply Reply

    Your son is kind of my hero at the moment. And you get a shiny, golden star too.

    Ugh, bullies. I had my personal bully on the school bus. The guy was a fifth grader from the school across the street. I was a FIRST GRADER and a girl at that. He’d sit on me and would go through my backpack and lunchbag. I tried ignoring him to no avail. And I had to endure my mom telling me that he probably liked me. Um, no. Eventually, I made friends with another little girl who got on at his stop too, so that she would sit next to me, and there would be no space for him. Not a single one of the older kids did anything to help though. And neither did the bus driver, even though he was informed about what was going on. (In his defense, it was a bus full of rowdy kids, but still.)

  9. Elena Jan 14 at 8:22 pm Reply Reply

    Just discussing bullying with our children is important, it’s my own personal belief that many parents do not discuss the issue at all. A couple of years ago I happened to read an article that emphasized one important thing any child could do to help someone being bullied: go stand next to them. I was bullied unmercifully during the majority of my school career. Neither of my children are what I would think of as leadership material, but I am so glad that I brought this up with my kids, because my son was being bullied on the school bus, and he hadn’t told me, but when I brought up the article, he said, Nobody helps me when I’m being bullied! And I was able to do some things, starting with writing a note to his bus driver, that did help him. I’ll never forget seeing the bruises all over his arms when he pulled up his sleeves to show me what was happening.

  10. Brigitte Jan 17 at 7:24 am Reply Reply

    What an amazing son! The first kid who was being bullied will remember him forever. – Ooh, Becky, I also had grown-ups who would claim the bullies must secretly have a crush on us. Um, no, is right!
    – and why does it seem the adults in charge NEVER notice the original offender? Ugh, all the memories are churning my guts up now.

Follow us on Pinterest

Close