October 6, 2010

Sticks and Stones...

may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

Has it been your experience that the exact opposite is true? That words really do hurt? That those who are intent on hurting other people will wield whatever weapon is most convenient to them, be it their fists or their tongues?

If you have read the recent headlines, you know that there have been some very serious incidences involving bullies lately. Feeling they had no way out, several victims have taken their own lives.

Let this be our wake-up call. We can no longer afford to be silent on this issue.

No matter what you think about Ellen, her heartfelt plea needs to be heard:

  • 1 in 3 students say they have been bullied.

  • 160,000 students miss school EACH DAY to avoid bullies.

When are we going to say enough is enough?

It's time to put an end to the epidemic.

This father finally said, “Enough!” and is now facing his own set of consequences. Where was the reprimand for the students who did the very same thing to his 13-year-old child?

I know how this father feels. Though my child has not been as severely teased as this young lady, I know the emotions that would drive a father to take matters into his own hands.

As a new student in a close-knit school, my daughter seems to have the words “Tease Me” tattooed on her forehead.

My daughter is in second grade.

In a Christian school.

First it was the boy who sat behind her, pulling her hair, tapping on her shoulder, kicking her seat, constantly pestering. Thankfully, the teacher moved him before things got worse. Then it was the two boys stealing her pencils and throwing her books and papers down the aisle. The same boys have tried to blame Ella for their mischievous acts. Most recently, it has been a “gang” of “lunchbox kids”, pouncing on her every move at lunch. They've labeled her a “baby” and frequently tell her she should go back to K5.

What would possess seven- and eight-year-old children to taunt someone else? I cannot understand where this kind of mentality comes from. This kind of unsolicited harassment. Picking on someone just because they are new, or look different, or need help.

The Bullying of Seth Walsh: Requiem for a Small-Town Boy

When I was a teacher, I did not tolerate teasing in my classroom. It has always been one of my biggest pet peeves. To this day, it ruffles my feathers more than just a little bit to hear the name-calling and back-biting. Memories of my childhood are not very clear anymore, but I remember specific instances where I was teased. Being told that I had a big nose, being punched in the face by the boy next door, being ridiculed for things beyond my control.

I have no tolerance for bullies.

However, I can see the other side of the equation. I do see that many bullies are hurting, lost souls, who are crying out for help. Having been wounded themselves, they take their anger out on everyone else in an effort to make themselves look better, feel stronger. Most bullies I have known would like nothing more than to have a close friend, but seem to find a way to push everyone away. Trapped in a vicious cycle of hatred. Bullying has also become a way to move up the social ladder. A way to become “cool”. A way of getting some much-needed attention.


What is the solution to the bullying epidemic? LOVE. Are we showing love and supporting the victims of teasing and abuse? Are we there for them when they tell us something isn't right? Are we stepping in when they entrust us with their fears? Are we showing them Christ-like ways to handle the bullies in their lives? WE need to stand up for our children. WE need to teach them how to stand up for themselves - not with violence, but with words. Words that say, "Enough!".

What about the bullies? Are we loving them with Christ's love? Are we teaching our children to love even the most vile, horrific bully? Are we showing them how to turn the other cheek when a driver bullies us on the road? Are we behaving like Jesus when we are faced with people who treat us poorly?

There are many resources out there to help you talk to your children about this very important topic and I encourage you to take a look at some of these links:

In our situation, the teacher is doing her part to stop the bullying of my daughter. But, it was only because I took the initiative to bring it to her attention. With 32 students in her class, there is no way she can catch every instance. Parents, talk to your kids. Find out if they are being teased or doing the teasing. You are the frontline in this battle. Do your part!

**When doing some research for this post, I discovered that this week (October 3-9) is Bullying Prevention Awareness Week. This might be a good time for you to talk to your kids about being bullied or being a bully. **

1 comment:

Mommy of 2 and 2 said...

I am do dad that Ella is being treated this way. So WRONG, especially in a Christian school where you would not expect that :( it breaks my heart that our society has to deal with this and that children are so severely abused by others. Thank you for the references!