A recent event that happened to the child of a friend really got to me. I've been thinking about it for over a week now and it made me think back to when I was a kid. Bullying happens in every school, every grade and to at least one person you know. You may not realize that they are being bullied. But I can bet that there is at least one child you know who is being bullied on a regular basis. I dealt with my fair share of bullying in elementary, middle school and even high school. It's not something I regularly talk about because quite frankly - I would rather just forget about it. Luckily for me, the bullying I experienced was nothing like some of my peers dealt with. And nothing like what goes in many schools today.
I am not an expert and what I know about behavior comes from my own experience with my children. What I do know is that bullying leaves scars that never go away. There are things that happened to me in grade school and middle school that I remember like yesterday. Of course, those things have helped mold me into who I am today. And I am extra careful to be sure my children know better than to treat people in that way or to make their peers feel hurt, sad or offended.
While standing in line to check out at Target a few days ago I overheard a conversation between a mother and her daughter. The daughter (maybe 9 or 10 years old) told her mother that her friend had been bullying other kids at school. The mom grabbed a receipt out of her purse and crumpled it up and threw it on the ground. She told her daughter to stomp on it - and she did. The mom picked up the reciept and did her best to straighten it out. She showed it to her daughter and told her to apologize to the receipt. At first I was a little perplexed and thought she might be a little crazy. Then she said to her daughter, "This is what happens to kids that are bullied. This paper has been crumpled up and stomped on. We tried to straighten it out and even apologized, but the wrinkles in the paper will never go away. Same as the scars that bullying leaves on these kids."
At this point, I had to chime in. I told the mother that I loved what she told her daughter and would love to use that as an example for my own kids and would love to write about it in my newsletter. She said she read it somewhere on the internet, but wasn't sure where. I'm still unsure where it came from, but what a wonderful way to explain to children the effects of bullying. Those scars truly never go away.
Here are some statistics that were pretty shocking to me:
• 1 out of 4 teens are bullied.
• 9 out of 10 LGBT students experienced harassment at school and online.
• As many as 160,000 students stay home from school on any given day because they're afraid of being bullied.
• 1 out of 5 kids admit to being a bully, or doing some "bullying."
• 43% fear harassment in the bathroom at school.
• A poll of teens ages 12-17 proved that they think violence increased at their schools.
• 282,000 students are physically attacked in secondary schools each month.
• More youth violence occurs on school grounds as opposed to on the way to school.
• 80% of the time an argument with a bully will end up in a physical fight.
• 1/3 of students surveyed said they heard another student threaten to kill someone.
• 2 out of 3 say they know how to make a bomb or know where to get the information to do it.
• Playground statistics - Every 7 minutes a child is bullied.
(Source: Stomp Out Bullying)
It's so important that we talk to our kids about bullying. Keep the lines of communication open so that if they are bullied, they feel comfortable coming to us or coming to teachers. Making sure they understand the effects of bullying on other children so they don't hurt their peers. I am well aware that this is something you all know, but I felt that it was important to repeat.
Let's teach our children to be better than that. The world can never use too many good hearted people.