“Bully” – Don’t Minimize the Term Please….

 StopBullying

 

I’m speaking out on a subject that is very sensitive to me.  As a mom of a former bullied middle school girl, unfortunately there is no black and white definition of being bullied. There are a lot of grey areas. Yes, parents who throw around the word sometimes tend to make it meaningless, but for me, being bullied takes on a different meaning.

 

Perhaps it’s pent up from when I was in high school and beat up for supposedly sitting in some girls seat in the cafeteria (which at that time we didn’t have assigned lunch room seats as they may have in some schools now), while my peers and supposed friends looked on to watch.  No, I was the one who was made less inferior by the school as I was the one who was blamed not the girl who actually did the beating up part.  I laid on the cafeteria floor scared, scarred, and way beyond bruised.  At that very moment, my life was altered.  I didn’t know who to trust, who had my back, who was really my friend.  I left high school alone…hating every single moment of my high school experience.  I carried that throughout parts of my adulthood.  I found friends outside of my own high school that have truly became some of the best friends a girl could ever want or ask for.  THEY had my back and 20+ years later, still do, even with the miles of distance put between us.  They are the friends that you can call or see at anytime and pick up right where you left off.  But, that didn’t erase my feelings of embarrassment, abandonment, and having to face the same people who stared down at me…that alone was hurtful to the core.  They may not remember the day or what it did to me….but I do.  And, back then, schools weren’t involved as they are now.  Back then, it was all hush hush and no one wanted to address the situation and chalked everything up to kids being kids.  Today, it takes on a whole new meaning.

 

Then when you watch your child who you know is good at heart get picked on and have lunch trays thrown at them, and on a daily basis be made to feel inferior by girls who are “popular”, and this goes on for three years to which it alters who your child becomes, you better believe I alerted the school.  This wasn’t just one girl to another having a disagreement, this was one girl slowly backed by others including boys that made her life hell.  My daughter was changed from a fun-loving free spirited girl to a girl who became depressed, sad, lonely and as a last resort to stop the pain tried “cutting”.  No mother wants to know that is happening behind closed doors, ever.  Yes, this was all happening on the schools watch. Yes, I did bring it to the administrations attention.  Yes I did talk to one mom who didn’t want to get involved in girl drama.  Yes, while I gave my child the chance to stand up for herself and confront the girl, she couldn’t and instantly became weaker than I’ve ever seen.  My daughter protected the girl, as I found out a year later, even though we both knew she didn’t deserve it but she froze and couldn’t speak up.  Even with me standing by her side, she didn’t say what was happening, she was frozen by fear.  We had her bus route changed, we had made many changes in her schedule from middle school through her first year of high school.  Now after counseling and prayer, I have the girl I once knew back as my daughter, but it’s still a work in progress.  This experience did make her stronger and she will not tolerate that behavior anymore.  She is such an amazing spirit.  She believes in karma and has let go of the hurt, the anger and now actually feels sorry for those who took part in those events.  She has forgiven, but will never forget.  Through her counseling and countless discussions of this, I too have learned a lot and have finally after so many years, put the events of the past behind me and together, my daughter and I have been able to move forward with a much happier life.

 

Those parents that throw around the word “bully” to seek attention may have their own personal reasons for doing so. I was never a helicopter parent and always let my kids experience the highs and lows of being human, but…when I do see something that crosses my boundaries as a parent, I do & will stand up for my child.  But I also have the capacity to know the difference between a disagreement between kids and actual bullying.  To me, bullying isn’t an argument about who’s cuter, or who has the best boyfriend, or who has the better shoes.  To me, bullying is ongoing, happens in school and out, is done online or in person, gets psychological, physical, and n-ever stops, even when you try to intervene.

 

Society and social media has made it worse.  Kids are extremely disrespectful, they are attention seeking, and easily prompted by their peers.  Kids do not have boundaries.  They have no fear of consequences because there aren’t any.  And with as many school shootings lately it’s a very grey area for many districts with good reason, you never know the mental capacity of a child or their parent so it has to be like treading water. Each situation has to be seen for what it’s worth.  I have no answers for the question, “how do we stop it”, but I do know that it starts with educating parents on signs and symptoms AND, parents have to take a few moments to actually take inventory of their children.  Today, with both parents having to work, kids are often left alone and while they may tell you one thing…they are doing another!

 

For me, some signs I noticed:

 

  • sheltered in her room
  • didn’t see friends anymore
  • constantly looked sad
  • withdrew from communication and conversations
  • posted strange messages on social media sites {YES, as a parent, I STALK my children on Social Media and I suggest you do too!}
  • wasn’t eating
  • distanced from siblings
  • lost interest in things that used to bring her joy

 

For the person being bullied they feel as if they have no power as in my daughters situation.  If the tables were turned and she did have the power to speak up, the outcome would have been different.  

 

I may be blunt and brutally honest when I share my feelings and beliefs on this subject because it is one that I hold very close to me.  As a parent, it is your job, yes, your job, to take inventory of your child.  It is your job to have conversations with your child.  It is your job to be involved and ask questions…even if they argue with you and insist everything is fine.  It is your job to protect your child.  It is your job to recognize the signs whether your child IS the bully or is being tormented BY a bully.  It is your job to be educated on the subject.  If we want to end bullying, parents need to open their eyes and realize that sometimes kids are not all sunshine and roses, sometimes all a kid might is a parent to “listen” without being judgmental.  Sometimes a kid may need a parent to be their parent and not their friend.  Parents simply need to be involved and until they are…nothing will change. 

  

 

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