Thursday, November 20, 2008

Bullying or life among the jerks

This is a tough one and in our PC culture, sort of an uncomfortable discussion.

I am not yet dealing with this issue with Shea but it sure is popping up for my 5th grader. These days its all the rage for schools to have "Bullying Policies". Which is good, I guess, but doesn't really matter unless the policy is enforced.

No one likes their kid to be on the receiving end of bullying. That's for sure but what does it feel like for your kid to be a bully? I have been thinking about that a lot these days. What would I do if my kid was the one that was leading the "mean" girl pack? Honestly, I would be horrified.

I was on the receiving end of plenty of bullying back in the pre-PC days when I was a kid. No warm and fuzzy "Bullying Policies" back then; we were on our own. I remember an older girl putting gum in my hair on the bus ride home then mocking me in front of everyone the next day when I had cut a big chunk of my hair out to get rid of it. Oh ya, you don't forget that. There was plenty more through the years and I expect we all have these awful little tales to tell.

How do we survive it? How do we shake it off? How do we rise above it? I remember, vividly, my mother saying, "It's them, honey, not you." and "It's their loss." I found solace with the repetition and find myself saying the same thing to Molly now. After all, it's all character building, right?

Is my kid a bully? I think we all need to periodically ask ourselves this question and try to take an objective look. I know it's hard to be objective about our kids but I doubt if we are doing them any favors by ignoring an uncomfortable truth.

What about my kid's friends? Are any of them bullys? I think there is definitely a "Lord of the flies" mentality among our kids. They know who is the bully and who insists on being Alpha at all costs. It would make sense that some would consciously decide to become part of the pack, the posse, the mob. Is it understandable that some kids would rather side with the bully rather than be targeted themselves? Heck yes, it's understandable. Dreadful and dangerous but, yes, understandable.

Bringing it back to Shea; one of my big worries is bullying and teasing; about how he talks or doesn't talk, about still wearing diapers, about being different. Because let's be honest, childhood is all about normalcy, especially for special kids. Sure, to us, the parents, all our children are wonderful, special gifts. But, to them its survival mode.

Thankfully, I have a couple more years before it starts in earnest for Shea. By that time, I will have hopefully made it through with Molly.

1 comment:

deirdre said...

Thanks for this great post. Every grade seems to get more wonderful in some ways and more complicated in others. 5th grade is tough for us too. I think there's aggressive bullying and passive aggressive bully and we're experiencing the latter.

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