Okay, I know that we’ve heard a great deal about bullying over the last few years. However, I don’t think that enough can be said about something that affects so many innocent people in such a negative way. Following are my experiences and thoughts on the topic of bullying.
I was bullied as a child. Let me give you a little background. My father was very strict, and as a result of that, my sisters and I led a very sheltered life. We were not allowed to visit with other kids and we pretty much stayed to ourselves. Despite the fact that we did everything together, we each had friends and I dare say that we were pretty nice kids, despite the fact that we led such a sheltered life. Because we stayed to ourselves, the other kids thought that we were stuck up. My two sisters and I sat together on the bus each day, and for some reason this made us the perfect targets for various bullies on the bus. I was the oldest and I had taken upon myself the responsibility of being the protector for my sisters. I just figured that the oldest child needed to take care of the others. My sisters and I sat together on the bus so we were an easy target for any bully that chose to harass us.
The bullies who chose to harass us actually lived right across the street from us in an apartment. Their father drove a long-distance truck and they were the kind of kids who were always in trouble. We lived in the house on the hill and we never got into trouble. There were three of them, Carolyn, Donnie, and Mary, the meanest one of the bunch. I think that Mary was as angry as she was because of her insecurities about her appearance. She had what they used to call a “wall eye”; supposedly they called it that because it looks like that eye is always staring straight ahead, at the wall. She wasn’t a very pretty girl either, and she seemed to be mad at the world. So she turned some of her anger toward my sisters and me.
She pulled my hair, tried to trip me, and called all three of us names. She used to call us the Three Stooges because the three of us all sat together on the bus. It was no fun being bullied. A few times I even had to fight because someone had hit one of my sisters or pulled my hair. If I had tried to ignore the bullies, it would not have made a difference. It would have only gotten worse, so I hit back. It was no street brawl, just a few girlie hits were exchanged. There was no blood, no scarring, just a quickened pulse and the hope that there would be no blood or scarring. Why once Mary and her brother Donnie even tried to bully the bus driver!
They started out taunting me and my sisters, and when the bus driver came to our defense they threw balled up paper at her; she cautioned them to stop. The bus driver was so distracted that we ended up having a minor accident. Fortunately no one was hurt. But that poor bus driver was shaking like a leaf. I felt bad for her because there was nothing that she could do. They hauled us all into the principal’s office. I hadn’t done anything so of course I was allowed to continue to ride the bus. The bullies did get put off of the bus, but they blamed us for their punishment. Their mother even had the nerve to call and try to threaten us. I’ll never forget, my mother said with fire in her eyes “They’d bednot put a hand on you!” (Yes, I said bednot!) I had my parents on my side, and I knew I’d be all right. After a while, those particular bullies grew out of bullying us. There were other bullies, but I was able to get past them.
I’m sure that most of you have encountered a bully somewhere along the way. As an adult I had to step in when a neighbor’s child tried to bully my son. I tried talking to the kid’s mom, but she was useless. Really, it was like talking to a wall. She was so incredibly uninvolved. I just had to tell my son not to play with the kid. My son was only four at the time. He is a grown man now, and I hope that he hasn’t had too many other bully experiences. I hope that when he has kids maybe they will not have to contend with bullies. I guess that bullies will never go away. Yet, we all can make a difference by being involved. There are some very simple things that might help make a difference.
Tell your children that they can talk to you. Let them know that you are in their corner. They have a right to feel safe. Make them understand that you are there for them. Bullying should be reported to an adult. And adults have a responsibility to pay attention. As a parent, I feel that it is my responsibility to intervene if I see children being bullied. Once I saw some kids beating up on another kid from the neighborhood. I broke it up and told them to go home. I don’t know what happened later, but I did the best that I could do in that situation. I think that folks have become desensitized to the bullying that goes on. One doesn’t need to be bullied in order to grow up. Bullies are mean; they hurt others, emotionally and sometimes physically. The thing that really bothers me is that the parents of bullies are oblivious, or even sometimes supportive of their little mean kids. If you have a kid who is bullying talk to him or her, and if that doesn’t work, get him/her professional help!
I know that nowadays it can be dangerous to reprimand other children. However, as an adult it is our job to let kids know that we can help. Speak up when you see bullying going on. We have got to let our children know that being bullied is not a rite of passage into adulthood. Bullying serves no purpose. If you know of any initiative to end bullying in your church, your school, or your community, get involved. We owe it to the children! Here is a link to a great website for anyone who needs info about bullying.