Were you bullied as a child or teenager? Are you a parent who suspects your child is being bullied? The dictionary defines bullying as physical, verbal, or psychological aggression or harassment toward others, with the goal of gaining power over or dominating them. If you were treated like this when you were younger, then you remember what it felt like. You know how damaging it can be.
Some victims become so despondent they become suicidal. A child or young teen might say, “I just wish I could go away and never come back”. Completed suicides directly related to being bullied are rising in number every day. This is such a tragedy.
I’m writing a book about my experiences as the mom of a daughter who has been bullied. She eventually developed addictions, mental health issues (brain disorders) and self-injury. Since this is part of her story, I dedicated a chapter to this topic. I’m including a few excerpts in today’s blog.
My daughter, Renee, was the victim of a bully at a very young age—from first grade through third grade, then some in middle school, but we never knew how severe it was. I believe this experience ultimately impacted how she viewed herself and others. She’s still processing those experiences. She’s almost twenty-eight years old.
One of my friends told me how her daughter developed headaches, insomnia, and an eating disorder as a result of being harassed by her classmates. Another friend shared her story with me. Here are a few portions. Maybe you will mirror your own or your child’s:
“My son has always been a target for bullies. Maybe it’s because he’s a foot shorter than everyone else his age, or maybe it’s because he’s one of the smart kids, or maybe it’s because he never liked sports. I don’t know what it is, but he’s had a problem ever since I can remember. It didn’t seem to affect him too much until his fifth grade year. That was the year we moved and he had to start making friends all over again.
He didn’t seem to click with anyone in his new school.
By the middle of the year, he told me about this kid who was mean to him a lot. He said they would make fun of him whenever he got the chance. He would get their other classmates to laugh at my son and generally exclude him from everything. He told me he hated school and didn’t want to go back. I told him I would talk to his teacher, but he didn’t want me to. So I didn’t do anything at first, but as the year went on, the bullying didn’t stop, so I ended up calling the school.
Come to find out, the kid that was bullying my son was a girl. A big, mean girl who’s mother worked in the school’s office. The teacher had a talk with this girl and she claimed to not know what my son was talking about. She said she never did any of those things. Since it was his word against hers and the teacher had no proof, nothing happened, except now she knew that my son had tried to get her in trouble.
For the remainder of the year she continued to harass him, but he stopped telling me about it, afraid I would call the school again. That’s when my son learned that telling on someone who’s done something wrong doesn’t always help . . . he knew I couldn’t protect him either.
In the beginning of seventh-grade, he broke down and told me he was being picked on in gym class. He never liked sports and he wasn’t very good at them. The kids made fun of him for being short and pudgy; he was always picked last for teams, and they would trip him.
When I say broke down, I mean in tears. It was so sad to see him like that, hearing how he was being treated. He told me he hated going to school so much that he wished he could fall asleep and never wake up. That was a huge wake up call . . .
I ended up talking to a couple of guidance counselors who were very helpful. I learned about Florida Virtual School: He could take classes online at home and the rest at school, or he could take all of his classes online . . .
We decided to have him take some classes online, and the rest at school. He was so happy to be able to take his gym class online.
I can’t stop kids from being cruel to him and apparently, neither can the school, but I can tell him it will get better. I can share my own struggles that I had with bullies when I was his age and how I dealt with them. And I can tell him how much I love him – how amazing I think he is. And that is what I’ve done.”
Resources for Parents and schools:
The Essential Guide to Bullying: Prevention and Intervention by Cindy Miller and Cynthia Lowen (Penguin Group; New York, NY; 2012)
Bullying: Help Your Child Handle a Bully; article by Mayo Clinic staff; mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/childrens-health/in-depth/bullying
Face Bullying with Confidence; article by KidPower 8 Skills we can use right away. They also have other resources to help parents; kidpower.org/library/article/prevent-bullying
Bullying: What Parents Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe by KidPower Solutions, by Irene Van der Zande ( KidPower TeenPower FullPower International, 2010, Santa Cruz, CA)
What Do I Do When: Teenagers Encounter Bullying and Violence? by Dr. Steve Gerali; Zondervan, El Cajon, CA, 2009
Bullying in a Cyber World, Grades 6 to 8 (also available for grades 4 – 5) ; additional materials available for parents and schools;
Didax Inc., 2012, Rowley, MA.
Bully Free it Starts With Me, nea.org/home/neabullyfree.html; The National Education Association (NEA) program to stop bullying in public schools.
God, Defender of the weak, please protect our children from bullies. Heal their heart, mind and soul from any damaging affects they’ve already experienced. Equip us to know how to help them. Make us wise as we show them how to be strong. Make us willing to be used to make a difference in our communities. Amen.