SCHOOL BULLYING: 9 SOLUTIONS FOR STUDENTS (Issue 12)
by Diane Gold
How many of us remember some friend (if we can call her that) or kid at school who was a dictator or a bossy boss? For no apparent reason, that’s how she was. I had a fairly bully free childhood, But, I remember having a girlfriend for a while who thrived on being bossy and not sharing the decision making process when choosing the things we did. I had to have been around 14 because my dad had just passed.
My self-esteem was shaky, I now surmise, because I allowed this friend to make decisions for us. I liked the activities we did, I liked her friends and status (not a good reason to hang with someone) and I wanted friends, thinking I needed her as one of them. I didn’t realize until we stopped hanging out together that our relationship put a strain on me and, when it was over, I was relieved.
This incident was relatively short. Most kids have it worse times 10. There are bullies in school who outright ruin kids’ lives. Now that I think about it, I had a kindergarten teacher who would make me drink milk at rest period. She actually made me drink it after I said many times it made me sick, and I didn’t want it. It felt like torture, having been brought up in a household where personal choice was normal. I never did understand why the teacher was a milk dictator. We had to put our heads down on our desks for rest period. Then, when milk was delivered, she made us drink it. I pretended to be asleep so I wouldn’t have to drink it, but she always woke me. I even for a note from home saying I didn’t have to drink the milk. Luckily, my dad’s job changed, and so did my school.
Even that is massively mild, comparatively, and I didn’t have to experience a kid lurking around the corner in school waiting to pounce on me, as many do. There are kids who wait for recess so they can torture other kids. They physically abuse them, take their lunch money, humiliate them in front of their gang of followers who are afraid not to be part of the gang lest they get tortured themselves. And worse. We, as humans, are sometimes brutal when we are young, on our way to finding our who we are. Many of us grow out of it; some of us were the victims.
So what’s a girl to do so she’s not perceived as a tattletale? Below are 9 solutions. Each of us is different, so we need different solutions. Each situation is very complicated, and no one is suggesting it will be solved by simply reaching out, but we need support. The people I suggest we reach out to may not be sensitive enough, skilled enough, interested enough, patient enough to deal with what we ask. So, we mustn’t give up if we ask one person and that first choice does not work out. The next one probably will. Or the next.
1. Tell the teacher, unless it’s the teacher who is torturing us like my situation with the milk in kindergarten. teachers became teachers so they could help kids. We might find one teacher who is attentive, even though we probably have no proof to show and name calling alone hurts but is not against the law.
2. Tell the security guard so s/he can help. This act will build an ally in the security guard, who enjoys being a symbol of protection. This communication could work, although, if the security guard were a bully as a youth, we might not get anywhere and have to try elsewhere.
3. Start befriending the bully by not falling apart when we are bullied. Talk to the bully with an even tempered face. This could lead to communication and becoming a friend to her pack of followers. We would stop being a victim as we communicate with the bully and realize the bully is fragile herself and trying to cover it up through bullying. We must be very alert and brave for this one.
Hint: Never call the bully a bully. It would go against the information in solution 9 below. Instead of saying, “You called me a name,” say, “So, did you hear about the event this Saturday?”
4. Ask the school guidance counselor or psychologist to help us express anger through role playing or some type of screaming. It feels good to role play, and it feels good to scream. What? They don’t do that? If we ask, they might create the program for us. Think of how many people we would be helping by having the counselor offer that service on a regular basis. We might think we are the only ones in the world who have it so bad, but, we are not alone, even though it feels as if we are.
For role playing, tell the counselor that we need to practice being forceful. For our anger, ask the counselor the best way to get it out, and go with that. Ask if screaming is OK. If the answer is yes and we decide to do it, make sure to protect the throat from getting soar.
5. Ask the physical education coach to help by teaching us to hit the punching bag or body bag. This would not be for the purpose of punching our opponent out. It would be:
a. To release the anger we felt toward the bully and ourselves for being in that situation in a healthy, athletic way.
b. To become stronger by the very nature of punching the bag.
c. To earn the respect of the coach and our peers for taking personal action.
d. To learn a skill that helps us focus and be independent.
6. See if there is a community group for school bullying with other kids who feel the discomfort of other kids who are mean. I am sure it will be massively difficult to go to a group like this because we don’t like to admit we need help. If we do go, it will totally help our lives in a big way. Wealth, color, intelligence do not matter. There are others who will welcome us.
7. Enlist the help of our parents and guardians.This might be the hardest of all, since we do not like to admit we need help, and we might be at a stage with our care takers where we don’t want to confide in them. Look at it this way, parents and guardians were kids once, too. Each may have a story to reveal that would help us see we are not alone.
8. Begin kung fu lessons. These lessons would not be to learn to pound our bully and become just like her. No. They would be to:
a. Reveal our true self-esteem that might be covered and needs development.
b. Change the strength of our muscles and bones through the kung fu exercises.
c. Develop personal pr, that is, a positive personal image.
d. Increase confidence.
A side effect would be that we would balance our weight through stretching, moving, exercising and proper calorie use.
A second effect would be our increase in flexibility, which would make it easier for us to walk well, with proper posture and ease. These physical changes would translate to a look of confidence, definitely something bullies shy away from. When facing strong confident people, bullies move on.
A third side effect would be that we would develop an understanding of our personal space and learn to move in ways that would protect it.
9. Take Tai Chi lessons. As with kung fu, these lessons would not be learned to assault the bully. They would be to learn to be patient, forgiving and stress free while we became confident, fluid in movement and skilled at understanding give and take.
We all know the yin/yang symbol. It is the symbol of balance, represented by opposite sides of a circle. It is the symbol and the way of tai chi. And tai chi teaches us to be balanced of mind and body, ready to change with the wind, if anything, like a bully, should come into our path.
We all know that when we feed fuel to a fire, it gets bigger. Think of adding sticks to a fire or coal to the barbecue pit. The fire grows. If we have no more sticks or coal, the fire gets smaller and goes out.
In this same way, think of what happens when person A yells at person B. If B yells back, then A yells again and B yells again. What if B didn’t yell in the first place but talked to gain understanding of A?; A’s fire would die down from lack of fuel and the yelling would be over. In the same way, when a bully comes over to us huffing and puffing with insults or torture or telling us we are bursting out of our seams because we gained weight, our crying acts as fuel, and the bully bullies more. If we keep our wits about us and smile, no matter what the bully does or says (knowing in our hearts that the bully is hurting and shows it by bullying), the bully’s fire will go out because there is nothing to excite her bully fire.
No matter which of the 9 solutions presented here sound good to us, we will begin to understand that all bullies have some type of pain that makes them bully. The next time we encounter a bully, we can keep that in mind. We can realize that a bully is just crying out and expressing her problem through being abusive or mean. We just happened to be in the bully’s path.
I thought it quite karmic that while researching for this article, I was reading Clive Cussler (master author of ship wreck/salvage team adventures) and his Devil’s Gate. One character said to another,
“Like a child with bad self-esteem, you resort to your bullying in hopes of proving your strength.”
This quote reminded me of the well-known universal truth that bullies are covering up the fact that their self-esteem is broken. If we were saints, we would forgive them. We are human, so we must prepare ourselves.
The other book I was reading, John Maxwell’s Failing Forward, had a relevant quote,
“To keep the right perspective, take responsibility for your actions, but don’t take it personally.”
If we could put our emotions aside to see clearly and claim our glory, we would see that being bullied does not reflect our shortcomings. It may seem to, since we might want to scold ourselves because we were chosen to be bullied or because we didn’t have the silver tongue or master technique to stop the bullying. But school bullying, most often, is a random act of cruelty that we may not avoid but can definitely learn to understand and manage.
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DIANE GOLD, AUTHOR
Diane Gold, Founder of Warriors of Weight, Moms For Healthy Daughters, is a mentor in tai chi, kung fu and meditation, a music and stress expert and a dedicated mom. She believes that giving our minds a daily rest leads to creative, ongoing world solutions. You can read more about kung fu and tai chi at http://dianegold.com/tai_chi.html.