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Less talk. More walk.

I’m a little peeved right now. Who am I kidding? I’m really peeved right now. I’ll get to that. First, I thought I’d better clarify a couple things.

Since I wrote Memoirs of a Bullied Kid, many have written and asked what the bullied kids should do to end the bullying. I am here to tell you now that I do not have, and will never have, the right answer for that. Every situation is different, every state of mind is different, and every child involved is different.

It is your job as parents, teachers, neighbors, youth advisers, and especially classmates, to offer each bullied kid an environment of trust. It is your job to create a safe place where they will find their voices. It is your job to fill each bullied child with empowerment and sufficient levels of self-love so that they can rise above their situations.

Stop leaving the burden of fixing this on the bullied kids. That line of thinking is arrogant and self-serving, and quite frankly, lazy.

I stand behind my declaration that the only way to end this crisis is to stand together in our schools and communities, then work together to stop the problem at the source.

Until we tackle the pain surrounding the bullies themselves, the broader problem will continue to escalate. If you have not read my post Bullies. “their not even human”, please do. We must put our arms around these bullies. There is no other way.

I ask you honestly. Can we not see that bullied kids are a symptom of something broken? Something larger? Something deeper? The only people that can stop the bullying are the bullies. Please get on board with this concept. Do we simply want to act as a triage for those who survive, or do we want to end this crisis?

And why must we be the ones to end this? The answer is simple. We know all too well the voice that bullied kids feel they do not have.

As I go through the gut-wrenching comments from my bullying posts, I am continually overwhelmed. I am heart-broken. Anybody would be.

I am also encouraged.

It turns out the bullied do have a voice. It is you, and it is me. After reading my memoirs, so many of you have replied with your darkest moments and memories about this subject. Yes, you have given a voice to the bullied. A strong, and powerful voice.

And that voice is already being buried. That voice is already being forgotten. That is why I am upset. I apologize. I just wanted to post a video today, but panic is setting in as I see less and less urgency and attention being put on this subject everywhere I look, particularly in the media.

Bullying is an issue, and just like most major issues, the world has shown that it can disagree with it, talk about it, cry about it, be angry about it, and now it is showing that it can quickly forget it and move onto other topics. But… don’t worry. Everybody will scream and shout foul play again, just as soon as another funeral procession passes. As soon as more of our children are dead. As soon as it’s convenient to discuss it.

Let’s not let that happen this time. Today I call on each of you to find a way to personally keep this topic at the top of society’s priority list. Let’s talk about it until we actually see change happen.

If you have a blog, blog about it, and then blog about it again. If you have a Facebook account, write a “note” about it (click here to learn how). If you love making videos, make one about it. If you have a website, dedicate a section to it. If you have a business, find a way to support it. If you have a radio show, a television show, or a newspaper, continue to discuss it. If you have a contact list, send out your thoughts to all you know. If you work in our schools, demand that attention be placed in its proper place. Swarm your PTA meetings. Clog your discussion boards. Overwhelm the media with requests and demands to continue putting their focus on this.

If you have a voice anywhere, use it.

Damn it.

Do not let this issue die. That’s how more kids will end up lying breathless beneath cement slabs.

Please tell me that we, as a society, can do more than just talk about it this time. Please tell me that we, as a society, can actually unite and fix this problem. Are we just talk? Do we just enjoy the drama of the moment? Dear God, I pray not.

I will not let it die. Not while I have a voice. And based on my poll in which 99% of you said that bullying has affected you in some way, I hope you don’t either.

I have made a video (below) called “A voice for the bullied”. Feel free to use it and share it. Please at least watch it. I have taken your voice. I have used your comments. And I hope… I sincerely hope that the voice you have given will spread far enough to keep this issue on the front lines. Maybe if enough people see it, the problem will remain a problem until it’s not a problem anymore. Use this. Or use your own content. But do something.

Maybe you’ve heard the saying, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. Let’s make sure the squeak in this wheel is heard loud and clear for as long as it takes.

Sorry to be angry in my writing today.

I’m sick of the world getting passionate about things, and then days later watching the issue float down the gutter, quick to forget it for tomorrow’s headlines.

Not this time. Not today. Let’s make sure of that.

Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing

If you haven’t shared your experiences on SDL with bullying yet, share them here today. Dig down to that place you avoid going and be a voice for the bullied. Your honest words about what you’ve experienced and been through are so crucial to ending this problem. The world needs to see just how big the problem really is.

And others, please comment. Please tell me why society can seemingly focus so much of our attention on the problem, and then quit before we ever work on a solution?

Grrrr. I’m so frustrated. Here’s the video. Please watch it. Please share it.

Thank you to my dear friend Eliza Wren Payne for partnering with me on this. Her music is amazing.

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196 comments
kekah1689
kekah1689

One time there was a kid in my english class in high school who stuttered. He was very sweet, very quiet and did not often take part in class discussions because of his stutter. When he was called upon by the teacher to read a passage from the book he stuttered the first few words. The jock sitting behind me made a comment and stuttered his words on purpose. I had already been infuriated at this boy for his lack of social skills for most of the year, but had never said anything to him. When he made fun of this boy though...that was my final string. I stood up, turned around and smacked him so hard across the face that I'm sure the teachers down the hall could hear the echo of it. Then I turned and sat back down in my seat. I fully expected something to happen to me from the teacher, what I had done was completely inappropriate and I would have taken whatever repurcussions came my way. Instead, the teacher just looked at me and started to continue on with his lecture, when the jock said "aren't you going to do something about this?" the teacher said "I'm pretty sure the wrong has been taken care of." That jock never said another thing when I was around, I never heard him make fun of anyone else, and that stuttering boy and I became the best of friends and he eventually lost his stutter and told me that it all started the day someone finally stood up for him in that english class. I still don't quite believe him. I'm still not sure if I was standing up for the boy or had just gotten tired of that jock and did what I had wanted to do since I first heard his voice behind me in that class. But either way, it helped at least one person. Drew and I are still the best of friends because of this. I call worth it. :D

Julesmhoward
Julesmhoward

I just found out that last night my nieces best friend tried to kill herself because of a bully. Her mom begged the school to do something about the bully. It did nothing because they have a three strikes rule! Three strikes? It was two strikes too late. I think a school should get fined and have to pay all medical costs when this happens. The parents of the bully should get fined too! How do I get this started? Who is in?

CristyH
CristyH

I was bullied. I was bullied at home by my parents. I was bullied because I was the new kid, my eyes were too big, I was too fat, my cheeks were too chubby. Finally I realized that if I bulled first I would not be a target, people would be afraid of me and leave me alone. So I bullied. I was an awful person. I hurt people. I know they still hurt. I know I still hurt. Bullies do have a story, they are not write offs. They are tormented. I don't know the solution. I just know that the problem is a viscous cycle. Happy people do not bully other people. Happy people lift people up. I carry the scars of being bullied and being a bully. The only solution I can think of is to reach the bully and show them that there is a better way. It needs to start in preschool. It needs to start at home.

Beth Tomlinson
Beth Tomlinson

Raphael, I agree. I had that problem in 7th grade. This girl made that year a complete nightmare. At one point she threatened to fight me after school right in front of a teacher. He didn't look up from what he was doing. When I told him whet she said, he told me we needed to work it out ourselves. Lucky for me that day my friend called her mom to pick us up and the fight never happened. I was horrified the teacher had that attitude. After that, I was afraid to tell anyone else, even my parents. I thought they'd say the samething. Kids need to know, they can find someone to talk to, and it's NOT their fault.

Grace Ginger
Grace Ginger

Checkout the Gracie Jiu Jitsu "Bullyproof" program!

HeatherC
HeatherC

I was bullied in 5th grade. I was bullied by none other than my "best friend." She called me names - under the guise of "joking" or "teasing" she told me do things to other people or else we couldn't be friends. I did those things. I, in turn, became the bully to others. She was the popular. I wanted to be popular too. So I obeyed. For a while I thought I was the "cool" girl. But really, I was her little minion and a bully to others because all I wanted was to be accepted by her, my "best friend" She threatened our friendship continually. Why was I so naive? I recall very clearly, how one afternoon on the playground one boy in particular was teasing us. My "friend" said some hurtful things to this boy. She told me to help her "get him back." I obeyed, as I always did. I said some pretty harsh things too. Afterwards, my stomach was in knots. This was not me. This was not my personality. But it was me. I had just said want I said. For that moment, it was me. I was ashamed and felt sick. My parents did not raise me to be like this. I apologized to this boy and told him how cruel I was and didn't mean any of those things. I probably said "sorry" for what seemed like 100 times. I don't recall if he ever forgave me. This was over 25 years ago, and I remember it like it was yesterday. As much as I still don't like myself for what I did, that incident taught me a very valuable, life long lesson... I would never be bullied, nor would I be a bully ever again. In addition, I make damned sure that my kids are taught kindness to all people, and to stand up for themselves. I talk with my kids when they come home from school. We talk about what they are learning as well as who they played with, what they played, and how they played. I do it in a conversation manner so they don't think I am prying or having a "teaching" moment with them - but of course I am. I don't want them to be victims, and I certainly don't want them to victimize others.

Raphael Nora Rose
Raphael Nora Rose

I agree, and the worst thing is how if you're bullied, you're viewed as the problem. "Toughen up" Crap like that.

CaylaTurner
CaylaTurner

I was bullied in school. From grade 6, right until I graduated.

In some ways it made me stronger. It showed me that I do have the strength to go ahead and do what I'm gonna do, and damn the rest of you that want to snicker and poke fun at me behind my back.

But it also left serious scars. Scars that I doubt will ever go away. Those scars are the ones that make me not like what I see in the mirror on some days. Those scars that make me extremely insecure about a disability that I've recently been diagnosed with. Those scars make me feel like I'm not worthy of an adult relationship. Those scars that make me wonder what the hell is wrong with me. Those scars make it hard for me to make friends, since I don't feel I can trust...those scars, those scars, those scars.....

Some of the ones that delighted in making my life miserable now have children of their own. The only thing I wish for their children, is that no one puts their child through anything like they did to me.

SunnyLacrue
SunnyLacrue

You are so right. Society is very much like a room full of children, if you walk in as an adult and say, "Would one of you please pick up the mess in this room?" They will look around at eachother as if to say, "Well...go agead." It is something we have all learned as parents, that one of two things needs to happen. They either need to learn as a group that the best thing to do is for everyone to jump in and work together actively to achieve the goal, or one of them needs to be singled out and specifically be told to finish the task. Many times the singled out will pick up while saying, "Hey you guys should be helping me." Many times another will reluctantly join in. My point is, that society has no problem seeing that something must truly be done, but it does however, have a major problem seeing that the accountability rests with everyone. Even if they didn't make the mess. Thank you for being one of the voices that says, "Hey, this is your mess too, please help me clear it up." Thank you for making the effort and sacrificing the personal emotional endurance it taks from someone with their own history of being bullied to keep on stepping forward and reminding all of us to remember what is truly important, Dan.

TraceyJS
TraceyJS

Thank you for going to bat, again and again and AGAIN! One of the solutions I have is no longer sugar coating it by calling it "bullying". Call it what it is- ABUSE! Teachers, doctors and citizens are legally and morally required to report ABUSE to the authorities. Perhaps it would be taken more seriously if it was known as ABUSE. Just my thoughts.

ShivaniPatel
ShivaniPatel

Hi Dan,

thank you for this amazing and heart felt cry for those who are being bullied on a regular basis, and for those who are doing the bullying.

I do workshops in schools for Anti-Bullying and have a deep impact on the kids. Just last week when i did a workshop one child had the courage to get up and tell us about a friend of hers committing suicide because of bullying. The kids are so very perceptive and enthusiastic to do something positive about it, but they alone cannot do it. They need the support of the parents, the teachers, and any and all adults.

I do this work because both my children were severely bullied. One was physical and the other was emotional and verbal. This was many years ago and I still can't think about it without tears. In those days there was absolutely no awareness about bullying, and no research was done. Maybe if more people use their voices things might change. Our children are given to us to protect, to love, to respect, and to honor. Please peoples get on it and don't look the other way. HELP!

Shelleyd77
Shelleyd77

I was a parent who saw a bully bullying children at the school bus stop for years. I knew his name, I knew where he lived. I even knew he was adopted. I would watch him daily shove smaller children into the street. I would tell him to stop. I watched him try to hit other kids with rocks and sticks, and again told him to stop. By then I told the bus driver, who did nothing. The next time I heard him call a 9 yr old a rapist bastard, and I called the school to leave a message for the principal. Soon after, we get a new principal. The child watched most of his language, but continued to threaten and bully the children at the bus stop. Every time I saw him and heard him harassing the kids, I'd email the principal. They appreciated the emails at first, then stopped replying to them, which led me to believe they didn't really care. This year the kid rides at a different time. I'm sure he's still bullying, but I don't stay to watch. I'm hoping that my child, who is 2 grades lower than he is, will not be around him come high school. And the school has a no bullying policy whatsoever. My child is also special needs and I know she'll get picked on. But That's where I have my child's back and I will call anyone I have to so that my child can lead a bully free existence in life.

Julesmhoward
Julesmhoward

Wow. This made me sad and angry. My daughter was bullied, while her so-called friends stood by and watched. Her friends did...nothing. The teachers did...nothing. The principle did...nothing. The superintendent did....nothing. The school board turned it around and told me to stop complaining and harassing the poor...bully. The bully continued through the summer with threatening emails. My daughter is now home schooled and has no faith in people. Does not want friends because they betrayed her. She starts high school next year and doesn't want to go...now what?

single_mummy86
single_mummy86

I got told by the principal of my high school there there was nothing they could do about my bully, because "he was being bullied too"

Kimberly
Kimberly

As a parent, there is nothing more painful than watching your child being bullied. Our own personal experiences prompted me to write a post on the subject as well. It really does help connecting with others sharing the same pain.
Kimberly Mengshoel http://pressingforward.blog.com/2011/02/16/hello-...

ASf
ASf

This is the truth, and it needs to be revealed.

LizAnn
LizAnn

We are learning all about this in school. Today we watched a vidieo about a kid who killed himself because he was bullied at school because he had mentall isusses

Michelle
Michelle

Second to the fact they have low self-esteem themselves I think the other reason Bullies continue to bully is because it is not only acceptable among their peers but they will inevitably have followers and in that following they feel a sense of power and belonging. It needs to become extremely UNCOOL to be a bully for it to stop.

First time I saw this video, truly heart breaking. I can't imagine how broken I'd have to be to do what these bullies are doing.

-Amanda-
-Amanda-

There is something in your posts Dan...somehow you find a way to easily get between that stoic wall I typically hold between myself and emotion (aka: vulnerability).

This did not make me cry...

This made me sob. Thank you.

Gillian
Gillian

That video has moved me to tears. Somehow, all of us who are bullied think we're alone. I remember having a conversation on Facebook with a friend from high school who had the same issues with the girl that made my life a misery, but I never knew at the time that anyone but me had been a target. I still have major body issues, major self-doubt, sometimes self-loathing - and I haven't seen that girl who tormented me (not alone, of course, she was just the ringleader) since 1987.

MamaBearPing
MamaBearPing

Your post and the comments that follow are completely compelling my decision of whether or not to home school. My oldest is in Kindergarten right now. And I was hesitant to put her there.

I remember elementary school, I remember junior high and high school. I remember what happened on the bus. I was not bullied extensively OR bullied others. In 5th grade, there was a girl who everyone wanted to be friends with. I don't know why now. She'd call me her best friend one day and hate me the next. Each day she'd decide that one of the girls in our class would suffer and I'd always hope it wouldn't be my day. But my day would always eventually roll around. In an effort to win her approval, I alienated my best friend who happened to be my next door neighbor too. I said terribly mean things to her. I treated her like we had no history. One girl who I knew for a couple months trumped another girl who I had been friends with for years. Why? I look back on that time with shame. Shame for how much I needed that girl to like me and shame with how badly I treated my childhood friend.

And it's not just the incessant bullying. One instance, one comment can shape a person's self-image for the rest of their lives. Like when one boy said I had a fat ass. I wasn't fat. But he said it anyway. And I believed it. And it made me feel ugly. Now when my husband honestly tells me that I'm amazing and beautiful, I just can't believe he means it. No matter how many times he tries to pump into my thick skull that he really is truly, madly, over the moon for me and wants me because I'm me, I still think I'm not good enough.

And I stood idly by while others were tormented and did nothing, said nothing. WHY DIDN'T I STAND UP FOR THEM? I would now, in a heartbeat. As an adult, I have. But when I was younger, I was just too scared to do the right thing. Why wasn't I taught how to do the right thing?

There are many memories I'd like for my children to have. And there are so many memories of what happened at school that I'd like to forget. I just don't see how I can raise beautiful, young women who love themselves and know their worth by sending them into a culture that has the probability for such hostility.

So, in my little corner of the world, that is how I will combat bullying, to keep my children home and teach them that all humans have worth. To keep them from going into a situation where they could be bullied, or end up being the bully. So when they grow up, they really do respect people. When they grow up, they won't have to recondition their thinking because they realize how wrongly programmed they have been. So that when they grow up, they've already been taught to be the solution to the problem.

Leanne
Leanne

Here's the deal, Dan.

There's a bully in our school. It's a small, private school. And the bully is a girl. And this girl runs people over and uses them, and gathers her "crew" together to side against the underdog.

The ONE time that I attempted to resolve this situation with the girls mother? Her mother said "that's who she is, and YOUR CHILD needs to get over it."

So therein lies the problem. She is ENCOURAGING her child to be strong, dominant, forceful. Not nice, empathetic, caring, considerate, or thoughtful of others feelings. And she knows it. And she doesn't think it's a problem.

THAT is the problem. How do we fix that?

Wolfe
Wolfe

I read your previous posts on this topic, and I thought about sharing. When I dug into the past though, I found that while I can find lots of memories of being bullied, none of them are particularly traumatic. So I didn't post.

Y'see, I'm a geek. Was then, am now. Shortish and scrawny, never good at (or interested in) sports, used to wear glasses, socially inept. I was/am into sci-fi and fantasy fiction, video games, roleplaying games. My activities in highschool were choir, theatre and Magic: the Gathering.

So, yeah. There were times when I took of my glasses before I walked out of class, because I expected to meet someone who wanted to beat me up. There were times when I tested the heft of my lunchbox, in case I needed to hit someone with it to give me a running start.

(too long; part 2 in reply)

Anne
Anne

I was bullied horribly in middle school. I came thisclose to going home and committing suicide one day in October 1995, that's how awful they were to me. I was mocked mercilessly for what I chose to wear, for being smart and speaking up in class, for being creative. Kids on the bus stole my bag and buried in a snowbank, I had things thrown at my head in class, and it was everywhere, school, bus, neighborhood. I've contemplated suicide since then, but that day was the closest I've ever come. Fortunately something broke and I was able to avoid it, but what broke was a high schooler in the same district committing suicide. I cried all day, not for him but for myself, and when I went to the guidance office to talk about it I got told basically "if you're not here to grieve about him, go away, your problems don't matter." It was then that I decided I hated therapists. And I hated therapists for the next 6 years.
I became depressed in October of 1995 and didn't really pull myself out of it fully and completely. until just over a year ago. And that took 5 years of therapy with my amazing therapist and 2 years of a mood stabilizer. I look back on my relationship with my emotionally abusive ex and I can connect all of the awful things he said to me and why I stayed with him partly to all the awful messages I heard about myself as a 12 year old 7th grader. Because I believed him. I have a supportive family, but all my parents said was "Just ignore them, it'll stop" and "maybe the boys teasing you just have a crush on you" and "This too shall pass." Looking back at my journals and my poems from that time, the amount of pain I carried was mind-boggling. If someone had told me "this is not ok, and we need to make this stop," I would be a very different person than I am today.
In 8th grade I actually punched one of my tormenters in the face, and he sort of stopped. People try to tell me I'm not 12 and 13 anymore but I still carry the scars of that bullying with me. And I'm still terrified of 7th and 8th graders, more than just about any age group, because I know how awful they can be. I decided to be a therapist when I was 19, and I try to be the therapist that I would have wanted when I was 15.

I currently work with incarcerated girls, who are often in jail because of fighting. The topic of today's group will be bullying, because not only are they bullies, but they have also undoubtedly been bullied in the past as well.

keeping on
keeping on

I can't go there yet, that place of facing my years of being bullied. I've been abused and I've been abusive, it's all a hard truth to face but I do, with the love of God comforting me.

Liz
Liz

I was bullied almost daily from the third grade until high school. Unfortunately at the same time I was being bullied, I witnessed and experienced domestic violence as well as sexual abuse. I became a "scrapper". I unleashed the rage that I wasn't able to unleash at home as my mother and I got berated, smacked around and generally lived in fear. I became tough even though I couldn't be to the middle aged family "friend" who sexually abused me. I beat up people who shoved me on the bus every day, I beat up on the people who bullied my younger sister, I still feel sick that I allowed the violence to continue and even meted it out myself, even in self-defense. I'm sure I looked no different than the people who tortured me, grabbed my breasts, mocked my breasts, kicked my seat, put gum in my hair or threatened me every day.

My answer now is to listen, to let my daughter know that it's ok to ask for help and that there's nothing she can tell me that will make me fall apart. She has a great self-confidence, a gentle father who builds her up rather than tear her down, she has a mother who every day tries to not repeat the patterns of her upbringing (and sometimes fails). There's a trick now that she has a younger sister, teaching them to respect eachother, respect the cat, respect our neighbours and friends. It's a daily struggle and it's my own personal movement!

Melissa
Melissa

Dan your frickin amazing..you are making a difference in the world. :)

Kathy
Kathy

I think more schools are working on anti-bullying campaigns to help deal with this. I think as parents it would be to our best interest to find out what types of measures are being taken in the schools. I also think that we need to teach our children that it is not acceptable to be a bully and that we should also stand up to bullies. I have a 4 year old and even though he might not understand it yet, I am always teaching him ways to "set the example" rather than to be aggressive or defiant or to stand out. I hope that lesson will be instilled in him as he grows and matures and becomes a person with good character.

JulesB
JulesB

Thank you for this post! I just found your blog and I love it. I have a 5-year old son and I talk with him all the time about this subject all the while not knowing which would terrify me more...him being bullied or him being the bully. I cannot stand the thought of either scenario.

@atthebluebarn
@atthebluebarn

SDL: - I leave your blog open on my browser so I can check in with you - I have a busy life - lots of kids and schools - and hearing your voice helps out. Just hit this post a few minutes ago - and I am glad you have spoken more about the subject of bullying - of course I have experience with bullying - I am a mother of four, right?

So here are a few of our experiences with bullies - links provided:
http://atthebluebarn.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-abo...
http://atthebluebarn.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-don...

Hope this explain a few things. . . I'll check back with you later.@atthebluebarn
Jennifer McIntyre

Kathy
Kathy

Thank you for your anger, for focusing it on stopping bullies. My son was bullied and I did everything I could to provide him a safe 100% loving home outside of school. I took him to a new school when I got blank stares from the administration. They have no idea, and they are raising our kids!

Each time I looked through his tears into his beautiful kind soul, it ripped me up. The kids were so mean and so powerful, sucking other kids into the meanness - eventually all the kids in school found it easier to be horrible than to simply exist with the kind gentle boy that cried himself to sleep in my arms.

His new school has a zero policy for bullying. No one starts, so no one gets sucked in. He's in his second year there now and he is eagerly participating in all kinds of things. At a swim meet the other day, I just sat there in the bleachers watching him goof around with his friends, both of us relaxed and happy.

amy
amy

these comments made me want to stop watching half way through.....I kept on watching because I know that turning away from a problem because it is ugly will never fix it.....And the problems I want fixed the most are always the ugliest. This was an awesome way to make people aware of this issue(crisis) and I just wanted to say thank you for opening up this discussion....Great video!

Jennifer McIntyre
Jennifer McIntyre

SDL: - I leave your blog open on my browser so I can check in with you - I have a busy life - lots of kids and schools - and hearing your voice helps out. Just hit this post a few minutes ago - and I am glad you have spoken more about the subject of bullying - of course I have experience with bullying - I am a mother of four, right?

Here are a two links about our experiences - I'll check in with you next week - and we can catch up! {wink, wink}
http://atthebluebarn.blogspot.com/2010/10/its-abo...
http://atthebluebarn.blogspot.com/2010/04/why-don...

Have a great weekend -@atthebluebarn
Jennifer McIntyre

pastormom
pastormom

My daughter was bullied in elementary school; she had a group of boys who followed her around hissing her name like a snake, whispering insults in her ear as she walked down the hall, and stealing things from her desk. All very covert, and they denied it when she reported it--it was dismissed because nobody caught them. They then moved on to chasing her on the playground and tripping her as she tried to get away from them. When she reported that, she was given detention WITH THEM because, as the principal explained to us, "it takes two to have a situation like this, and she must have done something to provoke them" and "she is not a victim, she is just as much at fault as they are". He assured us that was the typical middle school policy.

For a while she thought she was hearing voices (she was replaying their whispers in her mind), and had nightmares every night. This was only over a time period of a couple of weeks. We, as parents, were in the principal's office regularly to hear what we were doing wrong to "cause her to be such a victim". He wanted us to teach her to stop "reacting" so their bullying behavior would stop. We kept telling her to go to a trusted adult when she felt threatened...so she kept telling the teacher.

Fortunately, the teacher decided to override the principal and declared to the entire class that nobody was going to hurt anyone else in the class, in any way, and they had lengthy problem-solving sessions as a class in order to deal with the bullying that was going on. That became a higher priority than academics for a while, and parents were also asked to come to some problem-solving sessions. It was messy and it took a lot of time and energy, but it was worth it for all of us and we not only saw our daughter regain her sense of self, but the bullies regained theirs as well. That became a class of empathetic learners, a community who knew how to stand up for each other because they cared about themselves.

That teacher literally saved the lives of a whole classroom of kids...because bullying harms the bully, the bullied, and all those who witness it. And the principal left the world of education after that year, to start a career in business.

I think the solution is not to look for a simple, 2-sided "right and wrong" answer but to accept the messy, energy-intense process of knowing and loving each other for who we are each uniquely made to be. It doesn't happen in one conversation, or one detention session, or one reprimand. It happens through building relationships with each other. And yes, sometimes professional intervention is needed, but usually it's a matter of unmet needs of some sort.

In my ministry, I'm also well aware that bullying is not limited to the world of children. Workplaces, neighborhoods, government agencies and (I'm so sad to say this) faith communities are places where adult bullying can take place, and we all know about that...and our fear (which apparently 99% of us learned as bullied children) can paralyze us in the face of it. Once again, the solution is messy and risky and it happens through building relationships...which takes time, energy and communication. But the result is life-giving.

-Amanda-
-Amanda-

I talked to my daughter (who's 11.5 and in fifth grade) at length about this topic, in those random moments that kids are busy doing something else; when *true* thoughts make their way out. She's been aware to some extent, of the media surrounding deaths as a result of bullying.

She's been on both ends of the bullying fence...(I hate that I just mentally thought, "but not in any *severe* way", because it's *always* severe when anyone, whether it's another child, an adult, etc makes any child feel worthless/helpless/etc.). She's freely admitted that she's bullied because it gave her a sense of power and freedom to be on the "right" side of it. She's expressed to me (in her own words),
"Mom, I don't like myself when someone else makes me feel small, and really...I don't like myself when I make someone else feel small either. It feels like everyone has to pick one or the other though."
I told her to brainstorm, that I would too, and we'd re-meet the topic in a few days. Apparently, she beat me to it. A student in her class was being made fun of, while a substitute teacher apparently developed a rapid onset of selective deafness. :-/
(Side note: my daughter not only pointed out that the teacher took no notice, but commented that *no one* did...)
With Halloween coming up...my daughter took the opportunity to complete her decoration for the class room before approaching the sub about the bullying. She didn't speak, but simply held up her painting for the room, and teacher, to see.
....
It was a cemetery scene; tombstone's shown on a hill, with every classmate's name shown beneath a sign "Bullied"..... at the bottom, she simply wrote:
"Can you hear us NOW?"

Some teachers at her school are horrified by her picture, but personally...I find the idea of voluntary ignorance to bullying, and bullying itself to be much more terrifying. I don't know if I have ever been more proud of her than I was that day. :-)

Kelley (Kacie) O
Kelley (Kacie) O

I haven't shared the rest of my story - actually, I've been ashamed to share the rest of it. In the first post I remember seeing about bullying here (I haven't been on here for long), I commented on the experience and not the after-effects. My mother saw me go through depression so severe that I self-abused and tried to take my life 30 times over the course of the 9 years after. Before I was bullied, my mom said how much of a happy child I was (keyword: WAS.) I have spent these last 2 years (I'm 23) recovering from those years that I wanted to die. I had told myself that either it was them or me who was going to come out at the end of this; in the end it was them - I didn't want to hurt anyone else, no matter how much they hurt me. I opted for hospitals versus jails. I never did talk much about those years until about 4 or 5 weeks ago. This issue has affected so many in the world, not just in school but in every area of our lives: workplace, social outlets, church, etc. I understand that the bullies were probably bullied. However, the chain needs to be broken and it won't stop just from me; I am going to try my best to aid in bullying prevention.

Sharon
Sharon

Dan, firstly, thanks for your insistence on DOING something about bullying. Rather than share my own story, I'd like to repost what I wrote on FB. This is about a cheerleader who was raped by fellow HS students, and who has been told by the school that if she does not cheer for the ENTIRE team, which includes one of the rapists, she will be kicked off the squad. As I said on FB: "So, this may be turning the bully angle a bit, but it still relates to a child, it still relates to another party exerting power over that child, and, I think, is worth reading about and passing along. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes."
http://womensrights.change.org/blog/view/high_sch...

Thanks for the space, your words, and allowing us to share.
-Sharon

ShivaniPatel
ShivaniPatel

@CristyH It is so courageous of you to admit that you turned to being a bully to stop being a target of bullying. I am so sorry you had to go through such pain and also the pain of inflicting it on others.

I do Anti Bullying workshops at schools and pray that they help. Even if they help one child I would feel it worth while. Please do keep on letting people know that bullying solves nothing and that usually bullies are themselves victims one way or another. It's people like yourself with the guts to go out there and be honest that make a difference. Thank you.

kjhopelives
kjhopelives

@CaylaTurner Don't be ashamed of the scars you carry!  Never be ashamed of the scars that life has left you with.  
A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed, you endured the pain, and God has healed you. Celebrate the scars, they show you have survived!

fritzie
fritzie

@Julesmhoward

Home schooling gives your daughter flexible hours. Could she find situations in which she is comfortable and can rebuild trust? Could she work or volunteer with little kids, adults, animals? Does she have interests or passions? I have known kids who don't fit in at school do well in college interest courses--ie photography--and excel and make adult friends. Could she get a job? Many schools and busses are hotbeds of bullying, but some are much better that others. Do you have a choice of schools where you live?

A good education is easily acquired in many ways these days. There are excellent on line courses which are recognized in most areas. For many young people, excellent social situations are found more easily away from school.

If you lived in my area (Central Alberta) I could point you in a number of helpful directions. We have some excellent homeschool support groups. There are also many choices of school programs: language schools, fine art schools, sports schools--30+ programs I believe. Usually a complete break with the bully situation is best. Broken trust is difficult to repair, but it is possible. I think I will post a success story.

JennieLynnMacaulay
JennieLynnMacaulay

I understand exactly how you feel and I think that would be my first response as well....but then I thought.....hmmm .... if you have the ability to teach your girls to be that way, maybe they can be the one to help others who don't have parents to help them through.... just a thought....

I have three children, my daughter is 19 and in college, son 17 senior at brick and mortar school and my youngest is a freshman in high school...home schooled. My older two are doing great in your typical brick and mortar school... the youngest needed something more than the school district was willing to give him and I think he was also being bullied. Not only by the students but teachers as well. They beat him down until he had no self confidence or self worth.... it was pathetic. I didn't realize I had it in me to home school my son. We just started this endeavor this year and I am so happy with my decision. Good luck in whatever decision you make for your family.... I am sure that your girls will be fine because you are aware and obviously hands on.

Wolfe
Wolfe

The worst of the bullying though happened AFTER graduating. Aside from being a geek, I'm also a U.S. Army Soldier. Basic Training was like highschool, only there weren't any females around, and you never got to go home and get a break. Bullying wasn't just something that happened. It's part of the culture. I got a bunkmate who was almost everything I wasn't. Confident, fairly fit, sociable. His bullying was probably the worst ever, because he took pains to make it look like it was all good fun. One day, I come into my bay to find that my locker has been duct taped shut. Like, extensively, all the hinges, massively around the lock and handle. I lost it. In a stand up fight he probably would have beaten me bloody. Perhaps luckily, it never came to that. One of the relatively few friends I had saw what was coming and grabbed me. He sat on me to keep me still, as I was all but frothing at the mouth. Of course, this lovely moment was immortalized in pictures that I got to see off and on for the next year or two, until I lost touch with everyone in my basic training platoon.

(still too long; part 3 in reply)

Melanie
Melanie

I love that this teacher made such an investment in his/her students! WOW! And what those kids learned was just as valuable as the reading/writing/arithmetic. This teacher was truly teaching life skills. I'm sure this brought progress to everyone teacher/kids/parents.

Anne
Anne

Your daughter rules. And so do you by extension for raising her like that.

Wolfe
Wolfe

Nowadays, there's not a lot of outward appearance of that kid. I'm 31 years old, I have a wife and two amazing boys. I'm still pretty scrawny, but I can outrun several people in my unit, and I haven't failed a PT Test in years. I've survived a deployment to Iraq, and I'm a Staff Sergeant. I regularly make decisions for other people's lives. But really, I'm still the socially awkward kid I always was. I'm still a geek, and I've never had the natural leadership and confidence that some people do. Nobody bullies me anymore without outranking me, but unless I make a strong effort, it's still too easily to find myself marginalized and ridiculed.

I've never really been in that black, hopeless and hate-filled place that you talk about, at least not as a result of bullying. Maybe I've always been too... self-involved for that. I guess the lesson that can be learned from my less intense experiences is that it doesn't have to be constant and never-ending to have a detrimental effect. Sometimes just unconscious disdain from your peers is enough to damage you, pretty much forever.

Jenesee
Jenesee

Sorry for spelling errors, texting is hard! Lol

Jenesee
Jenesee

@Wolfe I would just like to say that your story made me cry. Maybe thats typical to compare yourself to others especially when you are the cream of the crop pur US military but it is sad that somebody who has served others and risen in the ranks should feel dificient in any way. I'm in pretty good shape but I would have to look up to somebody who could survive the climate in Iraq , stay in excellent condition to pass PT exams and best of all play Magic! I think you need to find a wider poor to compare yourself to if you insist on doing that, like the majority of those you fought for and see that you are pretty awesome despite what "captain America" had to say in basic. After all Iron Man was cooler anyway. -Jenesee (www.jenesee.com)