After seeing so many stories in the news about bullying in school, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m terrified of bullies. Not for myself, of course. I’m physically able to fight, run, call the cops, or all three.
Jayden however, is not. He can’t walk, so fighting and running are out of the question. He can’t talk, so I may never know if he IS being picked on at school. He is currently in a developmental school that I feel comfortable with. All the other children that attend are developmentally delayed in some way, so the probability of bullying is quite low. It’s not eliminated, I’m sure, but I believe that most disabled children have very kind souls and don’t WANT to hurt anyone.
But what if they do? What if Jayden is being messed with on the bus? If the bus drivers don’t tell me, I’ll never know, unless I employ the nanny cam. I just might. I’ll never know if bullying occurs in the class room, cafeteria, or playground either, unless a member of the staff tells me, or unless it’s caught on camera.
What if Jayden ends up going to a regular public school, full of cruel, non-home-trained, misguided kids who want to pick on Jayden and children like him? Then what? I doubt that will happen, as this developmental school goes up to 8th grade, but with education cuts running rampant in North Carolina, you never know. Side note: Don’t get me started on the “lack” of education funds. That’s why they have the education lottery. But whatever.
After reading a few other blog posts about bullying, or children being mean in general, I’m alarmed at some of the comments from parents. Parents have said a few things that I think deserve attention:
- “Your child needs to develop a thicker skin” or “Your child needs to toughen up”
- “They are only bullying because they have low self-esteem. They should be treated with love”
- “That’s normal. Kids can just be mean sometimes”
OK, let me address these statements, because I feel as though this type of mentality only contributes to the problem of bullying.
First of all, there is a lot to be said for a child developing a thick skin. When they become adults, it will help them deal with things such as disappointment and rejection. This does NOT however, make it OK for other children to bully them. Saying things like this only excuses the bullies’ behavior. It’s basically telling the victim of the bullying to “suck it up.” Sorry, won’t happen.
Second, it’s true that bullies have low self esteem. They SHOULD be treated with love. At home. Not that other adults should hate a child who’s not loved at home, but it’s the love they get from home that matters most. Also, their lack of self esteem won’t make things better when a bullying victim takes his or her own life. So, yes, they need love, but that doesn’t mean the behavior shouldn’t be corrected. In extreme cases, some of these children just might need new homes. I don’t mean to make them sound like pets, but if what’s going on at home is so bad that they feel the need to take it out on someone weaker than them, their home life may need to be examined.
Third, of course kids can be mean. But here’s some food for thought: They can also be nice! I’m not saying it’s all unicorns and rainbows in every household, but when a child is mean to another child, the parent of the offender should intervene and teach love and kindness. Being mean should NOT be normal. Parents should NOT excuse or encourage cruelty towards others. This is simply another statement that rationalizes undesirable behavior.
If I EVER find out that Jayden is a victim of bullying, and any one of these lines are fed to me, it’s going to be a tough day for the parent of the bully, the school faculty, and most likely, the school superintendent. I’m terrified of the idea of someone purposely hurting Jayden, but I’m NOT terrified to take appropriate action if it comes down to it.
Bullying is a real problem, and parents are the first line of defense, for the bully and for the victim. Finding the reasons behind it is worthwhile, but ALLOWING it and undermining the severity of it is unacceptable!