Empowering Our Children – Bullying in All Forms
Recently in light of the recent changes about to take place in our county, I am struck with a familiar chord in my own life and a community that warrants change. October was National Bully Prevention Awareness month, so I thought I would take this opportunity to discuss something I know firsthand. Let me first preface that bullying takes on different forms and comes in all levels of severity. My child’s experience, although not severe, was inflicted by a child encouraged by her coach’s actions and instruction or lack thereof, and in that form is incomprehensible.
I am the parent of an eleven-year-old child who was involved in recreational sports this fall. During warm-ups before a game, she was humiliated by her coach while she was practicing and was reprimanded for not attending an optional practice scheduled earlier that week. She was also told by a fellow teammate that the coach said she would perform a degrading act during play as punishment. The sad thing about all this is her fellow teammate had no idea that what she was saying was wrong until it was too late. This kind of teasing and ridiculing during practices was practiced regularly.
My daughter ran to me for help, humiliated and shocked at what had happened. I reacted the same, with humiliation and shock. And as I attempted to leave the field, the coach approached me. While my daughter cried, I tried to get to the bottom of what had happened. I repeated three times that I did not want to talk about the incident unless I was told the truth. Since I was yelling and pointing in her face, I was later held in violation of the Parent Code of Conduct on the field, which I understood and accepted. I would guess that the whole event had been downplayed to oversensitivity and over-reactive hysteria on our part since no one else was punished for their actions that day. But that is not my focus here.
I am guilty of only one thing as far as I am concerned. I have not given my daughter the tools to be more confident and stand up for herself against this type of behavior. I have not prepared my daughter well enough and as a result, I have a child who is an easy target. What would appear to be normal berating and teasing and ridicule is not easily understood by my daughter and because of her naivety, she is the victim here.
This whole incident could have been easily avoided, but I am glad that it happened and I would not change one thing about it or the way I reacted to it. Now I can empower my daughter and hopefully some of your readers. Cyber bullying, hazing, and day-to-day ridiculing hurts our children. But we are not powerless. We need to give our children more confidence to stand up for themselves against anyone who hurts them, even their coaches.