The bell rings. Dread fills your entire body. You slump down in your seat, praying that the day goes by quickly and you remain invisible to the rest of the class. Your eyes are fixated on the board as you try to concentrate on what the teachers say. A few rows back, you hear your name whispered, followed by a giggle and more whispers. The teacher asks a question, you know the answer but you are too afraid to raise your hand for fear of the repercussions from your classmates so you remain silent. There is a knock at the door and your teacher excuses herself from the room. Your uncomfortableness is replaced by fear. The whispers get louder, kids are staring at you. Gum is thrown in your hair, spitballs line the back of your shirt and ink covers your brand new jeans. You don’t understand it. These kids that use to be your friends, have now turned their backs on you. You search for a friendly glance, someone to stand by your side. Sadly, no one makes eye contact. You are singled out, made fun of and all alone.
This is an everyday occurrence.
This was a typical day for me in elementary school. I was picked on for several years between grade 7 and 8. These people who were once my friends, turned on me and made my life miserable. I hated going to school, I hated feeling alone and I hated feeling powerless. What should have been carefree, childhood memories are replaced with feelings of loss and insecurity. It affected my self esteem, my confidence and the way I interacted with people.
Bullying is NOT ACCEPTABLE.
Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or dominate another person. It is behavior that is often repeated and habitual. Bullying is aggressive behaviour that occurs in the absence of adults (i.e. at recess time, before and after school, etc.) in the hopes of avoiding punishment. That being said, bullying rarely happens in the absence of other kids. Bullies need an audience to validate their actions. This gives strength to the bully’s purpose and continues the actions for a prolonged period of time.
Why don’t bystanders intervene?
Bystanders remain passive for many reasons, such as fear of becoming the next target or feeling helpless. It’s important to teach our children that being a passive bystander is only increasing the impact of the bullying and we need to make it clear that they should take action if they see anyone being bullied.
I taught my children from a young age that it is important to be kind and courteous to friends, classmates and strangers. I often explained that just because you don’t like someone, it doesn’t give you the right to disrespect them or treat them badly. I taught them that they need to stand up for themselves and those in trouble. I often wondered if my lessons were going through one ear and out the other or if my children were really taking them in. I found out one day, when my middle child came home from school and told me this story…
One night at bedtime, DS6 broke down in tears and told me that a girl at school was being picked on by a bunch of other girls. He didn’t understand why they were picking on this nice girl and why some of the other girls felt they had to pick on her because one girl said so. He told me he would never pick on a person just because someone else picked on them and, instead, he walked up to the bullying kids and told them to stop; then he told the teacher and befriended the girl.
A few days later, I got an email from the girl’s mother. Her daughter had come home deeply upset after being picked on at school. When they discussed the situation, her daughter smiled through tears and told her mother about a boy who stood up for her when nobody else would. I have never been prouder of my son than at that moment.
Help break the cycle of bullying, teach your children to say no to bullying!
You can find Jenn and her crazy crew over on her blog, 1Heart1Family, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Jenn is a working mom to two amazing boys and one Princess. 1Heart1Family is a blog about raising children, life with celiac disease, delicious Gluten Free recipes and helpful product reviews to help you survive the crazy journey called parenthood!