I don’t know anyone-child or adult-that doesn’t have a bullying story. I talked about bullying before here. And, just after the Oscars, I wondered if commenting on weight is bullying.
I’ve been bullied. My kids have been bullied. My friends have been bullied. The children of my friends have been bullied. Like actually been bullied. As in, ‘I don’t want to go back. I’m afraid’ bullied.
Unfortunately, though, that’s not always the case when the word is used, or rather overused. I’m concerned that we’ve lost sight of what true pervasive malicious meanness is.
We’ve forgotten that in this world, sometimes people say mean, teasing, or stupid things. And that’s not bullying. That’s just life. Crappy, dorky, normal, everyday life.
Accusing someone of bullying has become a tool for kids to get someone in trouble. Employing phrases like anti-bullying measures and zero tolerance have become a way for people to pay lip service to stop bullying without really doing anything. All the wolf-crying is diluting the message. And children are suffering in so many ways.
I’m so scared the word bullyingis losing steam, and the true horrible destructive nature of the action will get lost amongst its buzzword-ness. That scares me.
I had to threaten to call the police before the school stopped another boy from kicking and punching my son to the point he wouldn’t go to school anymore. That’s bullying.
Boys told my kid his shirt was funny looking. That’s not bullying. Its just mean.
I was FIRED from a job by the very person that was tormenting me at work. She stayed, I went. That’s bullying.
My kids observed other kids making fun of SPECIAL NEEDS kids. Nobody said anything. That’s bullying.
A girl told another girl she wasn’t invited to her party and couldn’t sit at their table for lunch. That’s not bullying. Its just mean.
A teenager spread rumours that a boy was gay and posted it all over Facebook. That’s bullying.
A car full of teenage girls drove by another girl, laughed at her, then drove off. That’s not bullying. Its just mean.
I’m GLAD people will wear pink tomorrow to make us aware that we have to DO something. But, I hope they don’t think wearing a t-shirt is actually DOING SOMETHING. We’re all aware that we, as a society, have a problem. But, the the solution is hidden in what we as human beings do after we take the t-shirt off.
What can you ACTUALLY do to stop bullying?
1. Teach your children NOT to bully. Teach and MODEL kindness, compassion, empathy, and acceptance for ALL people.
2. TAKE YOUR HEAD OUT OF THE SAND! Everybody’s kid screws up! If you know your child is being nasty, TAKE CARE OF IT! You aren’t doing your precious flower any favours by not seeing their weaknesses as well as their strengths. If your child is bullying at school, they are obviously in need of help from you, their caregiver. Do your JOB.
3. Teach them that COOL kids are not the bystanders, but those who stand up for others. Let them know that being a bystander is JUST AS BAD as being a bully.
4. Let school administrations know that ZERO tolerance doesn’t mean ‘we’ll investigate.’ Controlling destructive behaviour is not the time to be politically correct. We’re growing up people, and we need to teach them that there are consequences, not just conversations.
5. Teach your children to advocate for themselves, and not be afraid to tell. Take the power back from the bully.
6. Teach your children the life skills they’ll need to manage not nice people, and help them to discern between bullying and meanness. Give them the tools to answer to nasty words, and the power to rise above. Encourage them to seek out friends who will value them and stick up for them, as opposed to those who may blow like the wind when the opportunity arises.
I’m still wearing pink on this February Leap Year Day. Because I believe we have a problem. Its a mean world we seem to have created. And it’s got to stop. We need more than awareness. We need action.