SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks

{May 16, 2013}   Soapbox: Bullying

I do not remember middle school as a particularly happy period in my life.  It wasn’t awful, but it was fraught with relationship break ups and make ups and jealousies amongst my small group of friends.  As a middle school teacher, I realize what I experienced was fabulous compared to what kids deal with these days.  And compared to Monkey #1’s middle school adventure?  Gobles Middle School was paradise.

Bullying has become a buzzword in the media over the past several years.  It’s like it’s a brand-new thing all of a sudden.  The Real Housewives of Bravo TV throw it around like it is nothing (yes, I refer to Jesus Barbie). Bullying is a serious thing and with it being used  so loosely in the media, it’s lost credibility.  I work in a school where we have a zero tolerance policy and an entire system in place to deal with bullying.  I’ve had to deal with Monkey #1 being bullied at the upper elementary (according to the principal  there, Principal of the Year that year, “Boys will be boys”) and his middle school here in SoBo.  I won’t delve a lot into my family’s personal experiences, but I can tell you this: I take it very seriously.

In reality, bullying in one form or another has been around probably since dinosaurs roamed the earth.  That doesn’t make it right, it just is what it is.  Bullying isn’t new, but how we deal with it is.

Having been through anti-bullying training, I know it’s not a good idea to seek out the parents of a kid demonstrating the bullying behaviors.  Even if you want to knock their teeth down their throat.

There is a process and it is a drawn-out, miserable process.  The bullying behavior needs to be reported to adults, who need to report it to administrators, who need to investigate and get stories from all involved.  If they don’t determine it to be an isolated incident.  Which I see a lot at Monkey #1’s school.  And while this process is going on?  The kid who is being bullied gets labeled a snitch and the bullying increases in both frequency and intensity.

Which is why kids don’t want to report it.

My own monkey says, “Why should I report it?  It just makes things worse and they don’t do anything.”

This is actually not a slam against his assistant principal.  His AP is a good guy who can only act on the information he has (and probably prays every day that I move my kid to my own school and out of his hair) and he has resolved one case for us, quite satisfactorily.  Unfortunately, because that case went on for so long, my monkey may as well have a bright red target on his back.

My next concern: how many cases of reported bullying are going completely unaddressed?  How many are going completely unreported?

According to one website, grades 4-8 are the worst for bullying.  (Monkey #1 is going into 8th grade, so maybe the worst is almost over?)  The statistics for bullying are enough to make me cry.  Even worse, I’ve run across a word I had never heard: bullycide.  Bullying that leads to teenage suicide.

I learned today that an 8th grader at Monkey #1’s school committed suicide yesterday.  My monkey wasn’t close to him but I’ve heard he was a likeable, popular kid.  And rumors abound as to why he took his own life.  What strikes a chord in me is that people close to the family say he was bullied.

The third leading cause of death in teens and adolescents is suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  How many of those kids were bullied?

I don’t have the answers and I won’t claim to be perfect.  The Lord knows my life is a runaway train most of the time.  Nut as a teacher and as a mom, I do have some suggestions.

  • Talk to your kids.  Talk about whatever concerns they have.  And listen.  Really listen.  God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason.
  • Encourage your kid to talk to the adults at their schools.  If they don’t feel safe for whatever reason, it needs to be addressed.  If the school won’t take care of it, go above their heads.  All the way to the state level, if necessary.  I can provide the email address in Louisiana, and I promise it makes a difference.
  • Teach them basic self-defense, or get someone to teach them.
  • Love them.  Let them know they’re loved, let them know you’re there for them, and you have their back.

I’m sure I could fill this post with stats and personal anecdotes and all that, but I’m exhausted tonight.

What is your experience with bullying?  Do you have any ideas on dealing with bullying?

~ Katie



jeepnmom says:

Middle school sucks for everyone. Hormone changes make everyone acts and looks akward. It’s always going to happen, the bullying. It’s sad. I read an article once about an elementary teacher who had the kids wad up sheets of paper and then try to smooth it back out like new. When none of them could she told them that’s just like bullying. The scars will be there forever, no matter how much you want to take it back or say I’m sorry. Pretty deep. I wish you all the luck. I told my boys to punch them in the nose and lay them out. No consequences at home for it either. Probably not the best option, but my guess is it will only happen once and then Billy’s will leave them alone.

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