It Made Me Gasp!
I’ve been dealing with kids a long time, about four decades. I’ve seen them at their worst. I’ve seen them make very poor decisions. I’ve seen them act in uncivilized ways. One might even say I’ve become pretty desensitized to their abhorrent behavior. But what I read this week made me gasp aloud.
As a bully expert, I work hard to stay abreast of current happenings in that arena. I receive daily alerts about bullying activity. I read about stories from around the world, so I’m aware that kids everywhere are taking this bullying thing to new levels of low.
I read about how the bullies, at a New York school, continued to taunt Jamey Rodemeyer after his death. His death was the caused by suicide, resulting from being bullied. His sister attended a dance where children shouted, “We’re glad you’re dead! You’re better off dead!”
Reading this caused me to shake my head.
But the story I read from Canada caused me to gasp aloud.
Eleven year old, Mitchell Wilson, was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy. Last November he was attacked by a twelve year old boy from his school, who took an iPhone from him. The twelve year old was arrested and removed from the school.
Mitchell received a subpoena to testify against his attacker. Facing his attacker was more than he could handle; he committed suicide by placing a plastic bag over his head.
This has got to stop! Bullying is not a rite of passage. We cannot continue to lose our children. We, all, have to do something. Parents. Teachers. Shopkeepers. Churches. Everyone. “It takes a village…”
A Bully is…
It’s the beginning of a brand new school year. The kids have new clothes, new backpacks and new attitudes, they’re ready to learn. But what about bullying, will it return too? Will 90-95% of elementary students be bullied this year? Will we read about incident after incident of bullying this school year?
Did the bully get new clothes? A new backpack? A new attitude?
What is a bully? A bully is a child who has not learned to get their needs met in an appropriate way.
We have demonized these children, calling them awful names; proposing anything from corporal punishment to expulsion from school. It’s as if we, adults, have missed one very important element, a bully is a child. Children misbehave. Children make poor choices. Sometimes children do awful things. Children require the support and help of adults to learn appropriate behavior.
This child has not learned an appropriate way to get their needs met. Think for a moment, a baby is hungry and he lies in the floor, kicks and screams and he’s given a bottle. The next time he wants a bottle he lies in the floor, kicks and screams and he’s given another bottle. He has learned any time he wants a bottle all he needs to do is lie in the floor, kick and scream.
Some children have learned over time that force gets them what they want. I want it, I yell. I want it, take it.
Others want to be a part of the “cool” crowd and they don’t feel accepted so they do things for laughs and attention.
Still others were the victim of bullying in the past and now they are in a position to meter out what was done to them. They often say, “Nobody helped me, so it’s OK for me to do this to someone else”. They lack empathy, which is a common problem with children.
The next time you encounter a bully try looking to see what she is trying to communicate. Help her find an appropriate way to get the need met.
Want more information on bullying?
Kids First offers free anti-bullying training for parents contact us at ItsKidsFirst@gmail.com
Ms. D to thousands of kids, Deborah Thorne is the Founder and Chief Conflict Resolution Specialist of Kids First Conflict Resolution and Training Services. For more than a decade she has worked with children helping them resolve conflict. Kids First presents Tactics From the Trenches, a four-prong strategy that works, it’s not just theory.