Friday, September 5, 2014

Bullies - They Aint What They Used To Be

What is a bully?  I looked it up to get an exact definition.  A bully is a person that uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. It seems pretty straight forward.  A bully is the big kid on the playground.

When I was a kid I was bullied once or twice...who wasn't?  Everyone was.  Someone pushed you down on the playground. You were the butt of a joke. You were embarrassed in front of your class.  The kid sitting behind you cut a huge chunk out of your pony tail.  This one little brat's goal in life was to spend every single day making fun of you because you had crooked teeth, your clothes were old, your shoes were falling apart, your family didn't have money...the list goes on and on.  Being bullied was just part of life.  No one was physically hurt except for maybe a scratch here and there.  My definition of a bully has always been that one little brat that was a butt face to everyone.  I wasn't worried about my kids encountering a bully at school.  They would make fun of them a few times and maybe hurt their feelings but those were dues that everyone was just part of life. I teach my kids that it doesn't matter what anyone else says about you, just how you feel about yourself.  I knew there wouldn't be any life long scars from the playground bully and it may even teach them a valuable lesson...stand up for yourself, your friends and anyone else that is being treated unfairly.  Bullies aren't so bad if you put them in their place.

I read articles and hear reports on the news weekly, more often now...its daily about kids being suspended for being bullies, parents hiring attorneys because their child was bullied, protests being held and petitions being created because of bullying. Zero tolerance for bullies.  I don't usually get past the headline.  And then I judge, I judge these parents without even knowing the facts.  I justify my comments about these ""overprotective" parents by calling it an opinion instead of facing the fact that I am passing judgment on another person in ignorance to the situation they are in.  I have never considered myself overprotective.  Kids have to grow up, they have to be tough, they have to act their age, they have to learn to work out their problems because I wont be there to yell at their boss when they are 30 and he says their report sucks.  They have to learn the correct way to process their emotions.  I don't immediately run to my kids and scoop them up if they fall.  I move a little faster if there is an open wound spraying blood across the playground or if there is a bone exposed but I don't run and kiss every booboo.  I don't get involved in every sibling argument.  They have to learn to compromise and that they don't always get what they want at the exact moment that they want it.

As most know Ainsley has PDD-NOS which is on the Autistic Spectrum.  She also has Sotos Syndrome which is why she is the same size as her 6 year old brother and she is only 2.  I have tossed around the idea of homeschooling her in my mind since her diagnosis.  I always considered being teased and made fun of by a bully as a normal part of life for "normal" kids...but not for kids that have medical conditions.  Bullies have always seemed to respect that unspoken rule.  They don't bother the kid in the wheel chair or the kid with a walker.  They had respect for people that had disabilities and they knew they were off limits.  I couldn't bare the idea of my 5 year old Ainsley coming home from school saying that someone was teasing her because she was in K5 and she looks like she is 10.  Kids making fun of her because they don't understand why a "big kid" is in the same grade as them.  Kids making fun of her medical conditions that she has no control over.  So, the decision has been made for the most part, Ainsley will be homeschooled through lower elementary at least.  Yesterday a headline caught my attention.  A group of high school kids convinced a 14 year old autistic boy to take the ALS challenge.  They proceeded to dump a bucket filled with spit, feces, dirty water and cigarette butts on him.  I was sick.  Is this what modern day bullying has become??  I read more articles..article after article.  A teacher locked an autistic child in a closet.  2 girls tried to kill their best friend so they would be "cool".  A 5 year old child went home beaten, with 2 black eyes.  This is NOT bullying.  This is HATE.  This is CRIMINAL.  This is not BULLYING!!

My eyes have been opened.  I now know that bullying isn't what it was in my day.  The popular kids are making the lives of unpopular kids pure hell.  Kids are committing suicide because of this.  They are ending up in the hospital, they are the hands of their friends and classmates.  When did the playground bully turn into a child standing trial for murder?  Why are these children so filled with hate that they take pleasure in making another person's life miserable.  I judged parents that are fighting this.  I judged parents whose children suffer this daily.  Whose children come home everyday and cry, who dread going to school because they know it will be another day of misery.  Who secretly contemplate ending their lives just to escape the words, actions and judgment of other children.  I apologize.  I am truly sorry to every mother, father, child and family that I judged, that I said was over reacting.  My kids have never been bullied like this.  I didn't realize that schools and children have changed so much.  I now understand why schools have a zero tolerance for bullies, but that's not enough.  For some reason kids have no respect for each other, no respect for human life.  No compassion or understanding.  They are hateful and violent.  That is where the problem starts.  We have to make our children understand what they are doing.  Teach them to care for others.  I don't know how to do that.  I don't know how to take a child with no concern for others and teach them how to feel that.  I pray my kids will never treat another person like this.  They have their moments when they try to kill each other but I have never seen or heard them act this way to anyone.  I have never been told that my children were hateful. Everyone that knows me knows that if I ever did I would beat the good back into them.  Maybe that's the answer.  Kids that are afraid to be hateful.  Teach them fear and eventually that fear will grow into respect for others.  I don't know the answer to this problem or where to really begin to correct it.  I will continue to pray each day for all of the children in school.  Instead of just praying that they get there safely and make it through the day without a shooting or bomb threat I will add in there that they not experience modern day bullying and that they have compassion and understanding for their classmates. 

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