I have been pleasantly pleased over the years to see the issue of Bullying acknowledged as a problem in society. In fact, as I type my phone autocorrects Bullying to make it capitalized. That’s great, right? That must mean that it’s well on its way to becoming a non-issue! But then I see the comments. You know the ones I’m talking about. Those thoughtless, or perhaps misguided comments that try and downplay an issue that actually causes people to take their own life. I just don’t think you can put a pretty bow on something like suicide. I don’t think you can be optimistic about an issue like that. You can’t ignore it or pretend it’s not there.
Let’s debunk some common misconceptions about Bullying. Just maybe it can open some stubbornly squinted eyes around here.
3 Misconceptions About Bullying
- “Kids will be kids.”
It just makes my blood boil to even write that down. Kids will be kids, huh? I’m thinking the people who nonchalantly make this kind of comment have never truly been bullied or had their child be a victim. They haven’t taken their daughter to the police department like my parents did when I was a teen. After finding a bloodied stuffed animal with its throat cut in my driveway they realized it wasn’t just kids being kids anymore.
Kids are kids, and in being kids they will say thoughtless words without thinking. They’ll even be mean. I get that. My kid told me a year after the last baby that my belly “was still fat.” I didn’t think she was bullying me; I knew she was just being a kid. But you see, Bullying is beyond a thoughtless comment or someone not wanting to play with you. Bullying is cruelty. It’s inhuman behavior directed at another human being. It’s making someone hurt because you hurt. It’s inflicting pain to try and lessen your own. It’s sad, really.
Bullying isn’t a kid being a kid. Bullying is making someone’s life unbearable. For me, as a teen, it was things like 30 prank calls an hour, spray painting whore on the road signs pointing to my driveway, or turning an entire school against me. That’s a lot to deal with when you’re a teen. When you’d rather sleep than eat, hide in a teacher’s room than face the high school hell that’s the lunchroom, or crawl inside yourself to avoid the laughter and whispers then you might just begin to scratch the surface of what Bullying is like. It’s absolutely nothing like kids being kids. That actually would have been nice.
What about this gem?
2. “It will make them stronger.”
I get it. I understand trying to make a positive out of something negative. I’m a huge optimist, so I can almost get along with that kind of thinking. Except I can’t. No, just no. That’s like saying if someone is mugged in a dark alley, “well, they’ll know next time not to venture out in an area like that after dark.” Nobody would say that. So here are the similarities of the victim of robbery and a victim of Bullying: they’re both victims, neither one asked to be a victim, and the incident will haunt them both for the rest of their lives. Think I’m being overdramatic? Then consider yourself lucky. You’ve never been the victim of Bullying.
You know what, I’ll try and meet you halfway. I’ll agree that perhaps Bullying makes someone stronger in the future if by stronger you mean less likely to trust people, build friendships, or be comfortable in social situations. I suppose it makes them stronger in that they build a hard shell around themselves to prevent harm, and that they are more on the guard for their own children to be mistreated. Guilty as charged. I’m stronger, alright, but if I could go back in time and take away that period of my life I’d do it in a second. I’d love to embrace the weakness of a woman who could trust and love more readily. Think about that next time you want to toughen up your kids. Which brings me to this one.
3. “It prepares them for the real world.”
Sigh. This actually makes me want to cry. I want to weep that we live in a world where we feel we must toughen up our children to fight back at the harshness around them. We do live in a cruel world, sadly, but being an adult is different than being a child, or even a teenager. I am able to deal with mean women a lot better at forty than I was able to deal with mean girls at fifteen. And it’s not because I was bullied. It’s because I’m an adult who has matured mentally, emotionally, and spiritually to handle such situations. We shouldn’t expect our teenagers to be able to handle the turmoil of that yet. We’re not doing them any favors by letting them traverse these situations alone. I can totally see why young girls kill themselves. I’m surprised I didn’t at that age. If social media would have been around, I might have been a statistic myself. As adults, we must help be the change. I love this quote.
“It’s not our job to toughen our children up to face a cruel and heartless world. It’s our job to raise children who will make the world a little less cruel and heartless.”
– L.R. Knost
Thought-provoking, right? What if we as adults stopped raising bullies? What if we could mold kind, compassionate, and loving behavior for our children? What if we could instill in them a high self-worth so they don’t have the need to make themselves feel better by making someone else feel worse?
When I was a teenager it wasn’t just one girl I considered being my bully. Sure there’s always a ring leader, but it’s also each follower that compounds the issue ten-fold. Every other kid who went along with the taunting, every teacher who turned a blind eye, and every parent who didn’t teach their children to stand up for the weak, stand against the cruel, or to offer a compassionate hand to those who need it; they were all a contributor to my experience with Bullying.
So what can we do? What if we could start by acknowledging the fact that Bullying is real? It’s not just kids being kids, and it’s not something they have to go through so they’ll be a better functioning adult. Those are just excuses we feed ourselves so we can continue to be adult bullies who raise little bullies. Just saying.
Perhaps consider this. If you don’t think Bullying is a problem then you’re part of the problem.
Addendum: I needed to add this. I did a lot of praying before I published this. You see, I didn’t want one of my former bullies to be hurt by my words above. That’s right! She’s no longer my foe, but my friend. Only God, right?! I forgave her (along with anyone else), and anything I share about bullying isn’t with anger in anyone’s general direction. God knows the people I hurt in this life before He showed me His face and changed my life! We are all works in progress. I felt the content needed to be shared so here it is.