Marcy's Story - "I don't want her sweet innocent spirit to change as mine did."
I was bullied in grade school. I am Mexican American but I was called beaner, spic, wet back, border crosser and so on... My skin was too light to be a Mexican, my eyes were different, and I was too smart. I dealt with this from Kindergarten into High School. I was picked on everyday, and at the end of the day I would run home just to feel a little peace. Unfortunately, I had to deal with physical altercations too. SO eventually the bullied (Marcy) became very mean spirited, closed off, reserved, and defensive. I never picked on others though because I knew how it felt but I made sure to deal with the bullies and protect others. After then, nobody would mess with me or the people I told them to leave alone. Was is it a good result? NO! Because then I felt like a bully since I knew I was feared. Needless to say, this truly needs to STOP! Now my daughter is being bullied and I don't want her sweet innocent spirit to change as mine did. HOW & WHAT DO WE DO TO CHANGE THIS AND PROTECT OUR KIDS...ALL KIDS from being bullied?
This type of bullying happens everyday. Note how she became the bully.
Below was my response to her.
Thank you for reaching out! It is always hard to hear stories of bullying but I am thankful every time I do, because this means someone has gathered bravery and courage to speak and possibly be asking for help. I believe "Bullied" could be very helpful considering what I've read from your story and your desire to help your daughter.
First, I am glad to hear that eventually as a person who was bullied you were able to gain the bravery and courage to take a stance as an active bystander for others. You expressed this presented an internal conflict for you feeling like you were a bully. It sounds like your intervention was through a method of intimidation which would definitely explain those feelings of bullying because in a sense you fought aggression with aggression. Were you bullying though? I am unsure. Regardless, I applaud you for your compassion and strength to draw boundaries by taking a stance in the best way you knew how at the time. It sounds like your reaction to bullying was both positive and negative. Positive in taking a stance as an active bystander, and negative in your choice of recourse, being intimidation. It is clear your intentions were noble to help others, but I do not believe children are properly equipped to manage the complexities of bullying on their own and should seek help from an adult if communication doesn't provide resolution. There is only honor, not shame in asking for help. It requires both bravery and courage, two excellent characteristics for anyone to obtain.
My book discusses the perspectives of all parties from the bully, the bullied, and the bystander. "Bullied", essentially discusses perspective and visits the foundation of empowerment, awareness, responsibility, and choice.
I'm curious when you were bullied, did you ever ask any adults for help? I believe teaching our kids to feel empowered to communicate with parents, teachers, or adults by asking for help is vital. Not only to teach them to ask for help but to keep asking for help until they get the help they need. Also, did you ever communicate to the bully how it made you feel and ask them to stop? For instance, "Why are you being so mean? It really hurts my feelings? Would you please stop being so mean? It really hurts my feelings or makes me feel bad about myself." Or were you too intimidated and afraid to feel you had power and a voice? I think it's important for our youth to feel strong enough to communicate and draw boundaries by asking them to stop in a calm and communicative fashion. I believe most bully's were once bullied and are not intentionally trying to be bullies, just as in your case and your reaction to feeling like you had become a bully. So if we teach our youth how to be empowered they can make better choices. If we teach them how to be aware of their emotions and thoughts they can communicate them. If we also teach them they are responsible for their actions, how they react, or even their lack of action, then they are also aware they always have a choice. The choice to communicate and draw boundaries, the choice to seek help if necessary, but also a choice to NOT take the words or actions of the bully's personally. I invite you to consider the reasoning behind a bully's anger or hurtful actions. Something is going on inside of them or in their personal life causing them to act out. When we begin to have a better understanding that the bully's actions may actually exist because of their own pain and inability to cope, then we can more easily deflect their words or actions knowing the pain they are causing is not because of anything personal to do with the person being bullied, but more of an internal conflict within the bully. In other words, taking into consideration the bully's perspective to better understand their hurtful actions. The book gets into much greater detail and as mentioned before, I feel it could be very helpful in your desire to help your daughter who now faces bullying or the misplaced emotional toxicity of the other children.
I think it's interesting that you speak of protecting our children. I hope my perspective helps you understand how we can teach them to be able to manage not only bully situations but moments of conflict. I encourage using the terminology of helping, teaching, preparing, or empowering, our children instead of protecting them. Life will be fully of bullies and we want to be able to prepare our children to overcome opposition or adversity. I'm not saying I have the answers. What I am trying to accomplish is a change to how we look at the bully, the bullied, and the bystander. I truly hope this e-mail finds you well. Please let me know if this has helped or if you have any other questions.
Thank you for being such a proactive loving parent who clearly wants to do everything you can to help your daughter become the amazing woman you know she can and will be. It's parents like you that make me smile knowing we are all doing our best to make the world around us a better place.
I hope you are able to purchase my book and that it may provide you with some helpful guidance. :)