I think that as long as people have gone to school, bullies have been a problem. However, it seems that today, kids are dealing with a whole new kind of bully. Almost like a super bully. One whose parents are blind to an issue, or better yet, in denial, and one whose violent and reckless behavior slides past school administrators far too easily. So how are you supposed to watch out for your kids in the hours that make up a school day (and they’re out of your hands) when everyone who is supposed to is not?
I remember when I first heard that my nephew had a bully. He’s one of my youngest nephews, and for his age, he’s a bit small (which makes him a prime target). This bully wasn’t just one of those a**holes I dealt with every once and a while as a kid who would poke fun at you and try and embarrass you in front of your peers. This snot-nosed kid had already put his hands on my nephew. In fact, he pushed my nephew down so hard in the bathroom that he hit his head on the ground and came home with a big knot. I was enraged, and of course, so was his mother–my sister-in-law.
You see, I’ve had nieces and nephews since I was a 4-year-old, and the oldest ones I have are, and have always been major athletes (it’s in our genes actually). Because they could bounce a basketball and get recognition from their peers for swinging a bat, they were deemed pretty popular. Therefore, they didn’t seem to have the burden of dealing with bullies too often (except for a niece who beat up a girl who tried to push her around…). But to finally hear that my little nephew was dealing with one, especially in a time when bullies are, as I stated earlier, super bullies (and more and more kids are committing suicide because of the harassment), I was worried. But my sister-in-law wasn’t having it. After not being able to get through to the mother of my nephew’s bully after telling the school, she went up to the young’n during lunch time, caught him while he was eating and let him know the real deal: “If you put your hands on my son again, you’re going to have to deal with me!” When I heard that she did this, I was kind of embarrassed for my nephew and thought she made the wrong move (what if his mother started coming around throwing threats?)…but that was until I saw the documentary Bully.
The recently released and much talked about film was so jarring because it put faces and names to the issue of bullying, aside from what we already know through school shootings, suicides, and our own personal experiences. They followed every kind of child, from a gay teenager struggling to get an education in peace, a boy with Asperger’s who was literally getting terrorized on the bus every day, to the families of young men who committed suicide, and even a teen who pulled a gun on her bullies while riding the school bus. While their experiences were haunting, nothing was probably more scary than watching a school administrator in the documentary blow off a family’s claim of abuse on their son (“They’re really just angels”), and try to solve a bully-victim issue by having two students shake hands. SHAKE HANDS!? I wanted to shake her. I realized that she was part of the problem and that in schools all across the country, there are many administrators just like her. Blind as bats and living like the society we’re living is a scene from “Happy Days.”
As much as I wanted to say that my sister-in-law had acted crazy a few months ago, while watching the documentary, I realized that there really isn’t a right move to keeping your kids safe when others aren’t stepping up and doing so when it’s their job–as both an administrator and parent. Was she supposed to wait until the bully broke my nephew’s nose or beat him like a mule? The boy’s mother clearly wasn’t going to wake up and smell the coffee (that her child is a heathen), so while I don’t agree with my sister-in-law’s actions 100 percent, sometimes a parent has to do what a parent has to do. Seriously, when you have people turning a blind eye to the bullying, saying it’s kids being kids and thinking things will be solved by having the bully and victim shake hands, it seems as though you really don’t have a choice.
In the end, if you were wondering, beef between my nephew and his bully seemed to calm down; not because my sister-in-law intervened, but because my nephew found a way to put him in his place. While in school minding his business, the bully pushed my nephew and called him a “baby.” Much to the bully’s surprise, my nephew must have downed his Wheaties in the morning, because he pushed him back pretty hard and said, “I’m not a baby!” That troublemaker somehow received the message, and for the most part, he isn’t terrorizing my nephew anymore (or sadly, maybe my nephew just isn’t saying anything anymore…).
In this day and age, it seems that the best way to get a bully off your back is to just stand up to them on your own; but it’s pretty sad to think that it’s left to a cornered kid by his or herself to deal with a bully situation these days.
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