I have had this itch to write about Bullying. Now don’t sigh and say “oh no another article about bullying….” Because although it may be just that, it is something that I feel I have been called to write about.
First off, let me request of you, to take a few minutes to watch the awesome video that my Girl Scout troop put together as part of their Gold Award preparation, see link above. The girls wanted to make a video that could have an affect on girls (and boys), to help inform them about bullying in a way that they would understand and enjoy. So please enjoy a little Pink.
Everyone, somewhere and at sometime in their lives find themselves either being bullied or doing the bullying. Sometimes not even knowing that they are bullying, but they always know that they are being bullied (even if they don’t know that that is what it really is, bullying).
If you have read articles about bullying you have read all the definitions of what bullying is…. that is not what I want to write about. I want to tell our story. Tell about what has happened to my children.
Heather: When she was in 7th grade, she is now a Senior in High School, she was “dating” a young man, let’s call him John. John and Heather had “dated” for aobut 6 months when Heather felt like she wanted to end the relationship. Things were getting a bit too serious for a 12/13 year old and she wasn’t comfortable with where he wanted to go. Prior to making this decision she was IMing on MySpace with John. John’s x girlfriend got on and started IMing Heather and John seperately. At this point Heather and, let’s call her Amy, were acquainted and on speaking terms. The conversation with Amy started off innocently enough but then started getting pretty nasty. It has been 6 years and I can’t quite remember the exact words…. but the gist of it is that Amy made Heather frightened for her life and her self esteem almost shattered. Amy had cyber bullied my daughter and thankfully for us, Heather had me in the room, because at that point I was over seeing ALL of the internet usage, MySpace being new and Heather being my eldest child, I oversaw everything.
Cyberbullying was something new 6 years ago, atleast to me, but the next day, against Heather’s wishes, I went to the Middle School and spoke with the Vice Principal with print outs of the IM conversation and he called the young ladies parents. The parents called me, asked for details and told me of her punishment. We never had a bit of trouble from her again.
As I write that last sentence it gives me the feeling that life was all a bed of roses from there on out… But it really wasn’t. Remember how my daughter felt? Afraid to go to school because of the threats Amy had written. Doubting her ability to be a strong young woman of her own accord. She wasn’t frightened to go to school after that but it took her quite awhile to regain her self esteem. It was excruciating, as a parent, to see the struggle but, of course, life continued to happen and Heather came out the other side a stronger individual. Did the bullying change her? I can’t say. Would she be a different person? I don’t think so…. I think that somewhere along her walk in this life the things that add up to equal her life journey would have created the young woman that she is today.
No one should make someone else feel the way Amy made Heather feel, no one.
Rebecca: She is in 3rd grade and currently we are experiencing a different kind of bullying. Rebecca has a young man who thinks he loves her. Rebecca does not feel the same and that makes this young man unhappy. It all started the first day of school. “Mark” proposed to Rebecca, we all thought that was cute and didn’t think much more about it. Until Rebecca came home one day, about a month later, and was acting funny. After some probing Rebecca tells me that Mark had reached up her shirt and touched her bare hip. Needless to say I was livid. Conversation 1 with teacher. Next episode Mark cut Rebecca’s hair in the classroom with out Rebecca’s knowledge. A fellow quad memeber found the hair hidden under Mark’s pencil box and reported it to the teacher. Conversation 2 with teacher and principal. Mark was spoken to about his behavior and things seemed to calm down. Rebecca stayed away from Mark, removed herself from his reaches and didn’t mention anything until a few months later. Mark was making it difficult to play at recess. Mark was beginning to be mean to both Rebecca and her 3 best friends. Rebecca was worried her friends would stop being her friends because of Mark. I advised her to let her teacher know what was going on and I mentioned it to her too, conversation 3. Then 2 weeks ago I found Rebecca in the hall at the end of school crying and saying that she was NOT coming back to school, EVER! AND I couldn’t make her! I couldn’t get her to calm down enough to find out what exactly happened except that it had to do with….. Mark. I went to the office and met with the Principal and the counselor and came up with a plan of action. Conversation 4. WHAT did Mark do you say? Well you may not think it was all that important but I believe that it was the pound of straw that broke the camels back. Apparently, unbeknownst to me, Mark had been hackling Rebecca and her friends for months. Making recess difficult, walking past her and saying things like: you smell, my brother said that you smell like an armpit, your ugly, you look like a toad, you smell like my dad’s feet and other, just as lovely, insults. He did these in a whisper where only Rebecca and those close to her could hear. On the day that I found her crying Mark had, in PE, tapped her on her shoulder and yelled out “Rebecca peed her pants!” Every student heard it and Rebecca was devistated! Yes Mark was talked to with and without Rebecca in the room. No Rebecca does not feel any better. She has always loved school, now she cries every morning and delays getting ready with the hopes that I will let her stay home. BUT, as much as I want to protect her from all evils in this life, she, unfortunately has to deal with life and what it throws you. Is it fair that my soft spoken, kind hearted daughter has to experience this? NO! I resilient NO! Echoing off the rooftops NO! But the “excuse” for Mark, he does not know how to deal with people. He has a disability that gets in the way of his comprehension of what is and what is not socially acceptable. I am sorry for him…. but WHY does my baby have to suffer? How will Rebecca come out of this? Not unscathed, I can tell you that much.
Why did I write this? May be because it was therapudic. May be because someone out there needs to know that they are not the only ones. May be so some one can see bullying for what it is. Bullying is not just stealing lunch money. Bullying is not just being taunted into a fist fight. Bullying can be name calling either vocally or cyberly. Physical abuse, mental abuse, verbal abuse, stalking, and more. Listen to your children. Watch their interactions. Be there for them so that they know that they can come to you with all things, big and small. My mistake? I didn’t listen close enough. AND when I was told by the school that Mark had a “problem” I told Rebecca that and she took that as meaning that she shouldn’t tell me again when he did something that hurt her because Mark had an excuse, he had a reason, to hurt her. For that I am ever regretful, I never even dreamed that she would hear my explanation and take it as thus.
So, in closing, I would like to say. SAY NO TO BULLYING!
Wishing I could take all my children’s pains as my own, but still thankful for each and everyone of my blessings.