She yelled taunts at me across the classroom. Her name-calling caused me to cringe in my seat and blush at her lewd innuendos. I looked up at my teacher to see if she would somehow reprimand my assailant, but she seemed as embarrassed and incapable as I was to stop the bullying in the classroom.
When I walked down the hall, my books were knocked from my hands, I was pushed into the walls, expletives were dug into my locker. I never went into a washroom. I had heard about the scrawling on the walls there. I feared going anywhere alone in the school.
In Grade 12, I finally had enough of her bullying tactics. I decided I would confront her. An after school “rumble” behind the tennis courts was arranged. My friends said, “She will kill you!” I didn’t care. I couldn’t live like this any longer. Years of her physical and verbal abuse had taken its toll on me.
After school, followed by a small entourage of friends, I fearfully made my way to the designated place. I knew she was a fighter. I knew I didn’t stand a chance. However, I thought if I could just show I could take a beating, she would somehow respect me and stop picking on me.
She never showed.
I honestly do not know why she failed to show up. Perhaps she was just as fearful as I that I had stood up to her taunts and showed her for what she truly was… a coward. She never attacked me again.
It could have ended far differently. I did everything wrong. Fighting her would have been the dumbest thing I could have done, but when you’re the victim, you don’t think straight.
As an adult now and as a mother of three, each of whom have been bullied at school, my advice to them was never to “fight fire with fire.” Nor was my advice to “turn the other cheek” because there is a right and wrong way to confront bullying. Allowing the bullying and the victimization to continue is not the right way. Becoming a bully to avoid being a victim is not the right way either.
“Bullying is a universal issue that touches almost every person, family, school, business or community at one time or another regardless of age, gender, race, religion or socio-economic status. Bullying is not only a ‘school’ issue, bullying is a broader community health and wellness issue. The effects of bullying can last a lifetime. Bullying also has economic costs associated with decreased productivity, lost man-hours, absenteeism, workplace aggression, harassment and intimidation. Employees shouldn’t be afraid to go to work. Parents shouldn’t have to fear sending their children to school. Students shouldn’t be afraid to go to school. School and workplace shootings should NEVER happen. Suicides can be prevented.” ~ BullyingCourse.com
A survey of 2,162 Canadians with children aged five to twenty-four conducted by Statistics Canada suggested almost half of Canadian parents have a child who has been bullied. Whereas several provinces and school districts have adopted zero-tolerance policies regarding bullying, children are now being attacked through social media.
Cyberbullying is becoming more insidious and dangerous to those who use it and are victimized by it. A new word has resulted—“bullycide”—referring to children and teens who have committed suicide because of being bullied.
How do we respond to bullying?
Parents, educators and adults must not take a lackadaisical attitude towards what is now a growing epidemic in the U.S. and Canada. We must be informed and educated about how to recognize when a child is victimized by bullying and we must tell our children and teens that there must no longer exist a “code of silence” amongst them. When they are bullied, there must be responsible adults who they can go to for support and those adults MUST be willing to take proactive measures to stop the bullying.
Victims of bullying are often afraid to tell others about being bullied because they fear increased retribution from the bullies. Victims of cyberbullying are also afraid of telling because adults tend to over-react and take away computers and cell phones in an effort to protect that comes off as being punitive to the victims themselves.
Bullying is wrong. It is a learned behaviour and it is something that can be changed.
- Bullying is NOT normal behaviour, it’s not part of normal life. It’s not part of growing up and something that be grown out of. It is damaging and it damages. If it is not dealt with, it is something that has consequences for life.
- Bullying is not just hitting and name calling; it is also spreading gossip and excluding others, and using social media and the internet to spread lies and hate.
- Do NOT become a bully to stop being bullied. Treat others the way you would like to be treated. Stand up for a friend when they need it and they will stand up for you when you need it. Respect others as you would also want to be respected.
- Never keep being bullied to yourself. Tell someone. If you are a child or a teen, tell a respected, responsible adult (a parent or an adult friend or teacher). If you are an adult, tell a co-worker or a law enforcement official. It is against the law in Canada to bully!
- If you are a bully, realize that hurting others does not make you important. It is cowardly and will have legal and life-long negative consequences if you continue to bully.
It is important to be knowledgeable and informed about what is the right and the wrong way to respond to bullying. I would ask readers to go to www.bullying.org for information and valuable resources. My Wounded Trilogy books are amongst those helpful resources on that website.
Lynn Dove calls herself a Christ-follower, wife, mom, grandmother, teacher and writer (in that order). She is the author of the award-winning books Shoot the Wounded, Heal the Wounded and Love the Wounded. She has also had essays published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Parenthood: 101 Heartwarming and Humorous Stories about the Joys of Raising Children of All Ages (March 2013), Chicken Soup for the Soul: Devotional Stories for Wives: 101 Daily Devotions to Comfort, Encourage, and Inspire You (Sept. 2013), Chicken Soup for the Soul: O Canada The Wonders of Winter: 101 Stories about Bad Weather, Good Times, and Great Sports (Nov. 2013) and Chicken Soup for the Soul: Miracles Happen: 101 Inspirational Stories about Hope, Answered Prayers, and Divine Intervention (Feb. 2014). Readers may connect with Lynn through her website.
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