May 15, 2014

The View From Here: Nothing New About Bullying

For the View this week I have Michelle of Scattered Wrecks
who has chosen to write about a hot-button topic.

She isn't "towing the party line", as they say. Michelle has a bit of a different perspective
on the issue of bullying than a lot of others are expressing right now.

Nothing New About Bullying

Over the past few years something has become very apparent to me: people are taking this bullying thing way too far. I know that people are going to come at me from all sides for that statement but it’s true. I think the media is taking it too far.

I was a bullied child.

I can tell all those kids out there who are currently being bullied, it will get better and the tables will turn.

I just don’t understand the media focus on bullying. When did it go from something that parents handled between other parents or even kids between kids to Nickelodeon having public service announcements on it?

When I was a kid from about the 4th through 8th grades I was constantly bullied by the other girls in my class. I was a bit of a nerd; I enjoyed school and it was my escape from home. I remember being harassed daily, called names and teased, constantly the butt of every joke. The most egregious event being when I was picked up and thrown into a trash can in the girl's bathroom by the other girls in my class. I never complained at home about it. I think maybe once my mother talked to a teacher, but honestly, talking to teachers only makes things worse. It will never get better until you are away from the people doing the bullying or they get bored with you and move onto someone else. I knew that then and once I got to high school, it stopped. I preferred to blend in with the wallpaper and went through high school virtually unnoticed and bully free.

Being a parent now, with children in school, I see things differently. I see parents like myself who are involved with the school and their children’s lives. I see parents who work a lot but still try to be involved and then I see a lot of the third group, what I like to call the "absentee landlords". The parents who are never around, never at home and pretty much the only time they have a conversation with their child is to yell at them.

It was then, I thought back to my own childhood. To the children that bullied me and what I could recall of their parents. I remembered the plays that their parents never came to, seeing them sitting outside on the step because their parent wasn’t home yet, and mostly I remember them being really angry all the time. Is this an excuse? No, it isn’t. Something I learned in Criminology, however, is that sometimes to solve a crime you have to get inside the mind of the killer. Maybe it’s time we got inside the minds of the bullies.

Now, I’m no psychologist, but I don’t think it takes a Ph.D. to come to the conclusion that a lot of bullies might be products of their home environment. A lot of the people who bullied me have had kids that have grown up to be bullies, no surprise there at all. I’ve had supervisors who were bullies as well who would complain about being called to their child’s school because of a bullying incident. Again, no surprise, their parent walked around the office like he was the leader of the Gestapo. Being mean and condescending for no other reason than he enjoyed it. Children watch how we treat and talk about others, we shouldn’t be surprised when they get to school and model our behavior.

The problem of bullying is the responsibility of every parent in America with a child in school. Whether your child is doing the bullying or being bullied or anywhere in between. We need to teach our children how to treat others by our own behavior. We are their first models, the absentee landlord mentality has to stop. On the other side of the coin, we have to teach our children coping skills. Without teaching our kids coping skills and being there for them, we will lose more lives to something that is so incredibly stupid.

I am so glad that I am not a student in these times, social media has made life totally unbearable for some kids. Shoot, there are times I hate it as well and I don’t have to deal with bullying. What is happening online is no different than a kid passing notes about you in class or writing your name and something horrible about you in the bathroom. The things kids do to one another hasn’t changed, it’s just gotten a bigger audience. By bigger audience, I mean the media. Like MTV glorifying teen pregnancy, the media has brought bullying out of the schoolyard and broad casted it for all the world to see. They have given bullies their 15 minutes of fame and made their victims another horrible statistic.

So what do we do? Stopping the media from glorifying bullying isn’t going to happen, it’s the “IT” topic of the moment, so unless something more newsworthy happens, that’s the story they are going to run. The only thing we can do as parents is take a really long look in the mirror and say to ourselves what behavior am I showing my child? How do I treat others? Am I modeling the golden rule? If the answer is yes, then create a dialogue with your child not only about what they experience but what they see. How does it make them feel? If the answer is no, then start by changing your own behavior and be the person you would want them to be. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but little by little we can all work to turn this situation around.

My daughter has been in a school club all year called Her Vision Her Voice.
It is run by Girl Scouts.
Their big project this year has been to raise awareness about bullying.
They have put together an entire presentation that they took to the 5th graders
at a nearby elementary school, and they are attending a Girl Scout conference where
they will present their work as a community service project.
I do believe that part of what they came up with is what kids should do
if they're being bullied, i.e. coping skills and where to go for help.

I think what Camryn has been involved with this year is great,
but I also agree with Michelle that we probably need to focus some attention
on the CAUSE of bullying, to maybe find a way to PREVENT it in the first place.

Let us know what you think, and then see more of Michelle at her:

**If you are interested in contributing YOUR View, please go HERE**

photo credit: Jacey F. via photopin cc

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