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Inside: Our kids shouldn’t need to face bullying on their own. We should be able to protect them. Here is the hard truth about bullying every parent needs to know.
Tears were rolling down her cheeks. Her tears were a mix of sadness, anger, and helplessness. I just stood there next to her and was incapable of finding something helpful to say.
Sarah is the mom of one of my son’s friends. We started to spend time together because of our children’s friendship, and I loved that she was such a joyful and friendly person!
She has 2 boys: one of them is my son’s age, and one of them is older (he turned 11 this year). Her older son is such a wonderful boy! He is smart and funny, has a lot of patience when his brother and his young friends want to play with him, and is always nice to everybody.
I loved his personality from the first moment I met him! He is an introverted boy, but as soon as I got to know him better I enjoyed talking to him and finding out about his hobbies!
But ever since the school started this fall, I noticed a change in his behavior. He seemed less joyful and talkative, but I thought that maybe it’s just my impression.
Until one day when his mom opened up to me about what was happening: her son was bullied at school but some of his colleagues.
It started with some rude remarks and soon turned into a daily issue. He is a shy and polite child and struggles with standing up against his aggressors.
As I heard my friend talking about this, my heart sank. As a mom of an introverted child, I could understand her so well!
Her efforts of trying to fix this situation didn’t seem to work out. The school wasn’t reluctant to take any real actions to stop the bullying. They called the bullies to talk about what happened, but this only triggered more bullying. The bullies called her son a “snitch”, and instead of stopping the bullying they became more verbally aggressive.
That day when I met my friend she was just coming back from dropping off her son at school. That morning her son, the one who loved going to school and was happy to play with other kids, asked her if he could stop going to school.
I can’t even imagine what she felt when she heard those words. When she arrived in the park that morning, all those feelings turned into tears. She could hardly speak.
Her child was facing bullying every day.
He was brave for so long, but it was clear that he can’t take it anymore.
Leaving him at school that morning broke her heart. She felt helpless because neither the teacher nor the school seemed to really care about what happened.
That morning we talked about all the possible solutions that she could find: homeschooling her child for a while, finding an online school, calling the police, putting more pressure on the school to take measures, enrolling her son in karate classes to give him more confidence.
But while she was talking about all these options, all I could think about was how lonely she was in facing this problem. She had no support from the school, from the other parent’s in her son’s class, from the teachers. It seemed like bullying is a normal part of school life and it’s her job to “toughen up” her boy.
I tried to be supportive and positive during the whole conversation, but deep in my heart, it hurt a lot to know that I cannot help her.
I was watching my son playing happily with his friend, and I couldn’t help thinking that he will start school next year. Although I try to build his self-esteem and help him learn how to stand up for himself, the truth is that he is as vulnerable to bullying as every other child.
The real issue here is that, for a reason that I can’t understand, bullying has become almost socially accepted in many schools. I keep hearing parents talk about how “bullying is part of school life”, how “it helps kids get ready for real life”, and how “our kids will survive it just like we did”.
But here is the thing: Our kids shouldn’t need to face bullying. We should be able to protect them.
Is bullying accepted only because it happens to kids?
I want to invite you to a short exercise of imagination.
Imagine that you go to work and as soon as you enter the office some colleague start making rude remarks about you. Or you go to the cafeteria for lunch, and a group of colleagues starts making loud remarks about how you look and laughs at you.
Imagine that you are working on your computer and a colleague comes and hits you or grabs things from your desk.
Or you are heading home, and in front of the office building some colleagues come to you, get you in a corner, and start threatening you.
How would you feel? Would you consider that this is a normal part of your work life? Would you consider that they are just “toughening you up” or would you consider this an assault?
Now imagine that you would go to your manager to complain about your colleagues and he would do nothing about it. Imagine that you would need to go to that office every day knowing that your rude colleagues are there, ready to make fun of you again.
I’m sure that no adult would accept this kind of behavior without taking actions. Then why do we accept it so lightly when it comes to kids?
If someone says rude things to an adult, it’s considered harassment. If someone hits an adult, it’s considered an assault. We consider it normal to take action if someone threatens us or treats us in a rude or aggressive manner.
Then why do we consider the same things “acceptable” just because they happen to kids?
The hard truth about bullying
All the things that I described above happen to bullied kids every day. The only chance for them to not face this is for us to not treat bullying so lightly anymore.
Because here is the hard truth: Bullying is so common in schools because we got used to thinking that it is “acceptable”. Because too many schools consider it a normal issue and don’t take real actions to stop it. And because many parents don’t find it an issue just because it doesn’t happen to their kids.
Change needs to start with us. We shouldn’t let kids face bullying like it were a normal part of school life.
This time it was my friend and her wonderful boy who needed to face this issue on their own. Next time it can be you or me unless we all realize that we need to fight this together.
So please, if you have school-aged kids, talk to them about bullying. Let them know that they should stand up against it and never allow a colleague to be bullied. Bring this topic up at parent-teacher conferences and let the school know that you won’t tolerate bullying in your child’s class.
Treat it seriously because you never know when it can happen to your child. It’s up to us to protect our kids. But you can only fight this together.
Helpful resources for dealing with bullying
Here is a list of resources about bullying and how parents can help their kids if they are dealing with bullies at school:
- Parent awareness series: Are you concerned that your child might be bullied?
- The Truth About Bullies (a helpful article for understanding how bullying works)
- 8 Facts About Bullying Everyone Should Know
- Truths About Bullying Only Victims Understand (a closer look at what victims of bullying experience).
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