Thursday, 26 November 2009

Why would you?

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!

18 comments:

Katy said...

Oh these are the things I dread .... I'm already freaking out & Chloe is only just 3! Good on you for being so 'defined' as a fellow non fence sitter I am full of admiration xx

Sweet Pea said...

Awww, that makes me sad. Such cute, tiny little things like your son having a bully in their midst. Glad the school is taking it seriously though. And take heart in the fact that as kids get older they often develop more of a sense of right and wrong and will often stand up for others or tell a bully to knock it off. Still, it is awful. My nephew is 4 and I worry so much about him starting school as he's only a slight boy and has red hair. Thanks to tv programs like 'Summer Heights High' the insult 'Ranga is frequently levelled at red-headed kids by their peers. I think kids should be given anti-bully classes every year all the way through school!!

Emma said...

So true, I was bullied horribly at boarding school and then when I finally changed schools and some of my friends were bullying a new girl I became the only one to stand up to it - I said you don't KNOW what it's like on that side of the fence. It's just horrible and affects people for years.

Josephine Tale Peddler said...

It is every parent's nightmare. Children have changed so much with this mobile phone recording of bullying and abuse. It is fortunate that most schools do seem to be aware of the problem but I do feel that there is not enough discipline in a lot of the schools which enables the bullies to carry out their horrible actions. I hear horror stories of teachers being too afraid to go to school because they are being bullied as well! I saw my daughter change from being very confident and trusting to very introverted and insecure overnight because of being rejected in her pre-school. It is fortunate your little chap has a good pal and also such loving parents. xx

Clara said...

A sad story indeed, but I am glad of the happy ending for your little chap. I guess the fence-sitters are too scared of being bullied themselves, and may not have the confidence or self belief to stand up to the bullies. This self belief is really something which originates at home, and comes from the parents' interactions with the child, so I guess I'd be looking there, rather than at the child, when it comes to the why would you question. Children are so vulnerable, and parents really need to acknowledge their emotional responsibilties which yes, are huge and can feel overwhelming. But look at what can happen if they are not acknowledged. Hats off to you and Paul for being aware, attuned, and loving. As parents, that's the best we can do.

brownhairblueribbon said...

I was bullied in primary school when we came to Australia, because of my accent (Scottish) and because I was pale and because I wasn't good at sport. Then in high school I was "cool."
Its all awful. I know you can;t fight every battle for them, but you are right to follow it up with the school, esp when so young!

I can only imagine how hard it is for parents to see such things happen to their littles, (I know how much I want to protect my 24 year old baby sister from her bully of a thesis supervisor! and it must be at least 700 times the desire to protect your own child!)
From what I remember, primary school was bad, and girls are worse then boys.
Love to your sweet lad.

Not Perfect But Nice said...

Thankyou for this post! I agree with you totally. I also think finding a real freind these days is a bit like finding a pearl so rare and precious.

Bush Belles said...

My thoughts exactly. My 6 yr old son had problems with the same one boy. Its such a horrible thing to have to live through and it just breaks our heart. I agree with your thoughts about the kids who stand and watch and don't do anything. There are also parents who do the same. My son has speech difficulties AND goes to a Catholic School. The Catholic school kids take such a beating from anyone who doesnt attend their school, including adults. I will never understand that but the really lovely thing is that all the children at the school stand up for each other and it brings tears to my eyes when I watch them coming to the aid of a fellow student, they all understand what its like. The strange thing, the other school has huge bullying problems and no-one takes a stand, no child, no parent, no staff member. So we deal with it on a larger scale as well and because we chose the school which guaranteed us zero tolerance to bullying and have kept their word we are the ones who are moving up and on. Whilst bullying is one of the most awful things you can go through, if you can find a school, people and children who have the same values (which is incredibly hard) you can have some dynamic outcomes.

Andi said...

My son is also in the first year of school and, while he hasn't been bullied or been a bully, I can see how much he is trying to fit in with the other boys. He has even given up on being friends with the girls (who he quite likes) for fear of retribution from the other boys.
It makes me feel so sad but, he is a kid who really struggles with his social development, and I don't know how to encourage him to always be himself as well as not feel ostracized by the other children ... who already know he's 'different' no matter how hard he tries.
I guess I'm writing this because I can see why the phenomenon you described happens. It must be so hard for a little person to be brave enough to stand up for another child at the perceived risk of their own social achievements.
Andi

Melinda @ Here We Go Loopy Lou said...

I am glad your little man has come through this and it sounds like you handled it brilliantly. Bullying worries me so much. My 3 year old son has recently been bullied at playgroup by another boy. This occured in front of me and this boys mother. While I was intervening, all the mother did was laugh, shrug her shoulders and say "boys will be boys". I couldn't believe it was happening so young. I just want to wrap my boys up in cotton wool, but it has taught me that you have to teach them skills how to handle themselves so young now. It is so true, these kids pick on our kids because they represent something that is lacking in their own lives. It is sad, but the protective mother insinct takes over when your child is in harms way!

RoLuc said...

Bullying isn't a good thing I think we can all agree on that! I think your on the money with the idea that bullies are a result of other circumstances and sometimes these bullies aren't even aware that they are actually the bullies.

Thankfully for me I had enough wog fire in my belly to go completely mad when I was bullied. The bullies didn't target me for very long. And I never sit by and allow this sort of behavior to go on for very long.

What keeps me concerned for my girls is the move from school yard bullying to 'cyber-bulling' which inflicts all sorts of pain. Something to look forward to I guess.

I hope your son is happy now his friend is back to hang with him.

Missymaomao said...

My child is now 25 but memories of the bulling stick with me. My son had to change schools because it was getting him down so much. the school didn't do anything and the bully continued to harm other children.
The sad thing is that there are adults, teachers, people in the work place that bully. In my books is not acceptable in any circumstance.

Cath from chunkychooky said...

I would find out what the schools policy on bullying is?

Lark said...

Thanks Cath! The school has actually been very helpful, they have a strong anti-bullying policy, and being a small school it is usually easy to resolve things. I just don't know why bullying has to happen at all, though!

AnastasiaC said...

sorry your little guy had to go through this (its always on my mind too as my eldest is quite shy and reserved and wont speak up much) im glad its been discussed and resolved now and happy to hear he is happy going to school again. Totally agree with your post, standing upto something or someone that is doing the wrong thing takes a lot of courage and if we all can teach our kids to do this in so many different situations, the world would be a happier place!

Reason's Whore said...

perhaps the fence-sitters are children who also come from abusive homes. perhaps they are unsure what is appropriate behaviour themselves, because of their upbringing.

you are lucky the school takes this seriously. when my eldest was in high school she was bullied but the schools in those days tended to blame the victim for not being tougher. she ended up dropping out.

tiel said...

my son is in year 1 and he is quite small..well he is very small for his age. recently this other kid just hit him in the face twice for no apparent reason. the bully has had many incidents throughout his schooling life for such behaviour. but for me it was our first incident (and hopefully the last)
the worry you go through and anger you have. My biggest thing was wanting to make sure that what I said to my son was the right thing. teaching them to deal with people who bully, building confidence in them, doing the right thing and crossing your fingers that it won't ever happen again, and showing my child that something had to be done about it in an appropriate way.

Cathy (Tinniegirl) said...

This is such a great post. I totally agree with you about fence sitting. I think it's absolutely intolerable.