My son went through a bullying incident recently, at school. The school took it seriously and dealt with the issue but it has still left me shaken. It made me think a lot about bullies, and the people who tolerate them. My son is only in his first year of school and a particular boy was teasing him about his long hair, the way he speaks, the other things that differentiate him from the other boys in his class. At first I felt angry at the bully, but it dawned on me that bullies are not the real problem. The bullying kids are generally those who have difficult, unfulfilling home lives, who have to shout the loudest because they lack attention and are probably a bit jealous of the kids who are comfortable with themselves and have a close family life. And who are popular, happy and doing well in class. I'm not excusing their behaviour, but I can kind of understand where it comes from.
What I will never understand is the kids who tolerate the bullying, who stand by and watch it happen, staying friends with the bullies, laughing and joining in, or even just saying nothing. These kids are more dangerous because without their audience the bullies would not exist. I guess it's because they can't bear to not be popular or not be friends with everyone. They are scared of having a confrontation with the bully themelves. These kids tend to be from good families and should know better. I am really proud that neither of my kids fall into this group. Neither do I - I simply don't understand the logic of 'sitting on the fence'. If someone is clearly the target of aggressive behaviour, and you know it, it's your duty to make a stand against it. End of story. I simply can't respect people who choose popularity over humanity. Or a 'quiet life' over a stand against injustice. Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't live with myself any other way. Paul's the same, and that's what we've taught our kids.
The good ending to this story is that my son has a best friend, who has been his pal since they met at age 3. His friend was off sick when the bullying was happening, but now he is back at school and it has suddenly stopped, because my son is hanging out with a real friend again, which offers him a kind of protection. Makes him stronger. Thank goodness for that real pal who will support you when you need them most!