How to Stop a Bully: A Simple Approach to Boost Personal Safety
Hey, keep it down in there! Kari yelled half-heartily. It sounded as if a herd of bulls were being corralled in her sons bedroom. “OK Miss Carmichael” the boys yelled back. Although she did not hear Shaun’s voice, she knew he must have been joining the chorus of voices.
It was his tenth birthday and Kari had gone to great lengths to make this one unforgettable. She leaned in close, pressed her ear against the door, and listened for a few moments. A host of snickers and whispered seep under the door and through the cracks...just as she had hoped.
Kari’s smile spread wide across her face as she tip-toed down the hall. When she reach the living-room she yelled back “OK, boys, lunch will be ready soon, you kids be good”. It was one more attempt tease the boys with her put-on firm voice.
More giggles and hushed whispers met her ears, as her smiled widened. She sounded serious, but really Kari was rejoicing. finally her little Shauny had found some friends. He had such a hard year, it was time he had a break. Her son Shaun was short for his age, much shorter than the other boys, and slightly plump around the middle. But Shaun had come through worse problems than a little pudge hanging over last years jeans. His dad had left one day and never came back. That seemed to be the start of many of his problems.
Edison Elementary was a new school for Shaun. Kari transferred him here last year. Friends and family try to convince her to leave him there, but Kari just couldn't. She wanted to give him a chance to start over again. In his old school, the kids had given him an extremely embarrassing nick name; “Boo-bo”. The name was meant to describe the extra flesh that settled around his chest. It was nearly impossible to hide this behind his t shirts. Even when he wore two at once. It would still show through and jostled when he ran. The kids teased him with a vengeance. On one occasion someone snuck in a bra and marked the name 'Boo-bo' across it. They all laughed when he opened his desk to find it there. Shaun never told his mother about that incident, but she did find out later.
The teasing had gotten much worse and so did her sons grades and behavior. In fact It had gone on for months under the radar of teachers and other adults. It wasn't until later, after that terrible day when Shaun decided to take matters into his own hands. That’s when Kari and Shaun’s school counselor decided it would be best to give Shaun a fresh start at a new school.
The noise from the bedroom grew louder and more rambunctious. A thud and hard crash jarred Kari into action. “Hey, you kids, what are you doing in there?” Kari headed out of the kitchen and towards the hallway. The memories of that fateful day raced through her mind as she sped out the kitchen towards the hall.
Kari was half way finished setting the table, and nearly done with the birthday cake. It was football shaped and had cooled nicely. Laying on the counter next to the cake were candles and paper funnels filled with football brown and grass green colored frosting. She wanted to make it herself, filled with love and dedication. This would be greater than any store bought cake could ever be she had thought to herself. Shaun deserved it!
Before she could reach the door, another crash met her ears. “Boys, Boys, what are you doing?”.
There are thousands of kids like Shaun. Something seems a little different about them. Maybe it's a physical challenge, or speech impediment. Maybe they are the only representative of their race in the classroom. There are any number of illogical reasons bullies focus their attention on a particular child.
Have you ever been the victim of a bully’s mean spirited actions? The problem of bullying is not a new one. Every generation has stories to tell of strong armed meanies who took pleasure in secretly shaming the younger, more timid kids whenever adults weren't watching. These bullies enjoyed making others their personal self-esteem booster.
There is real science behind the motivation for bullying. A plethera of statistical evidence shows how frequently people are bullied in schools and through out our communities. This information supports what we already know: bullying is a serious problem in our schools, neighborhoods, playgrounds, and even workplaces. What this information cannot tell us is how to stop the bully in their tracks.
THREE STEPS THAT MAY HELP STOP BULLYING:
I. Strength in Numbers
Young people who experience bullying are often kids who do not have a strong support group around them. Some children are drawn to gangs for this same reason. The gang supplies the safety of numbers. These peers help fight against others who challenge them. Although this does provide temporary relief from those who bully, it creates greater problems with violence in the long run.
Parents, counselors, and students can proactively create positive activity and interest groups that provide the benefits of groups without the negative consequences of gangs. If there are none available in the child's school, concerned adults can brainstorm interests with their child and meet with school officials to find out how to begin organized groups. These can include sports, boy or girl scouts, self defense and boxing groups, math or science groups or any other organized group. This is essentially creating opportunities to connect with new friends and add the power of 'strength in numbers'.
II. Think Defensively.
School is a place where assertive, aggressive, passive, shy, timid, and unconcerned children are grouped together. All different types of personalities are expected to interact and learn how to ‘just get along’. Some schools purport 15 to 30 children to one teacher, others have one school counselor for 400 children, one principal. and hopefully one assistant principal. There may always be more children to adults in schools. This increases the likelihood that students who are drawn to bully will have opportunities to hurt other young people when adults are not aware,
Crowded halls are as private as bathroom stalls. No different than domestic violence, when doors are shut to outside eyes, abusers feel their strongest. It seems unfair that young people would need to avoid places in their school or neighborhood for fear of meeting bullies, however this a tactic that can help prevent some acts of violence. Any person who takes self dense classes may learn the art of evading and avoiding unsafe situations. Participants are taught to avoid dark alleys, lock car doors, and walk with confidence, and how to yell and even run from violence. Although kind and gentle soul should not be forced to avoid and evade more aggressive people, however this is a necessary truth in life.
III. Demanding Justice
When the victim of bullying begins to get vocal this can be helpful. In other cases the bully can attempt to step up their violent activities in retaliation. However, when the bully learns their victim will definitely follow through with reporting offenses they will usually learn that their actions will create as much or worse pain and humiliation for them as it does for their victims.
Bully’s can be male or female, rich or poor, and any variety of race, creed, and color. Bullies are people who may have been abused by other. Others may have been acting out the behaviors perpetrated against them in the past. Maybe they are simply following the crowd, or just people drawn to bully just because they can. The fact is bullies are here to stay because they are us. They are our children and created from our own cultures and families.
Bully’s are us. They are the part of us that fears things that are different. They act out our disgust for our own weakness. They are our desire to feel more powerful and special than other people. They operate out of our envy and jealousy, hostility and hatred.
The victim’s are also us. They are our fear of things that seem more powerful than us. They are the part of our personality that secretly believes we deserve to be mistreated. They are the part of us that longs to be loved but doesn't know how to request it. The part of us that refuses to stand up for ourselves for fear of being pushed back down.
Bully’s Can Be Stopped In Their Tracks When We Teach Our Children To:
1. Explore things you enjoy and join together with others with similar interests.
2. Be smart, be bold, be proactive about your safety.
3. Speak up clearly and loudly when you feel threatened. Be prepared to receive some backlash but keep on speaking!
Bully’s are a part of life. As much as we might want it, we can not eradicate the world of all mean spirited people. The kind and gentle people of the world can learn to seek justice, live safely, and enjoy happiness even in a world filled with many types of people.
Kari stepped up her pace and grab hold of the door handle. She flung it open and breathlessly entered. “Shaun? Boys?” , “hut-hut-hike!” , “Aw mom, you said you wouldn't bother us, man!” “well, just keep it down boys, you sound like a heard of wild animals”. Kari backed out of the door with a sideways smile. Her son was just fine. She looked upward and thanked God that He had given her son a chance. He now had friends who loved football as much as him. They were boys just like him; a little larger, heavier, and pudgier too. They were his gang, his team, and together they were strong.