Teachers (and of course parents) have the challenge of dealing with and countering bullying and its insidious results. The unfortunate recipients of the bullying end up dealing with the emotional and other fallout in the longer term.
In elementary school, I was bullied incessantly. I was an immigrant kid. I probably spoke with an accent. For sure, my mother dressed me “funny”. I know I wore second-hand clothes donated to us. I don’t think I was ugly. And I was a total incompetent at any organized sports activities.
But what did it matter? My Dad, when he became aware of the situation, just told me to be a man, learn to deal with it, “suck it up”. He would have been telling me this in Dutch, but the intent was the same. I was never the recipient of therapy in my later years to discover and address any resulting emotional trauma.
In contrast, here is an article by a recipient of school bullying who in her adult years did some serious follow-up. Simone Ellin tracked down her fellow students who had bullied her during her school years. The conclusions she comes to are revealing:
Sometimes individuals bully others because someone is bullying them. That was certainly the case with one former classmate I contacted who had relentlessly tormented me during middle school. At first, she was reluctant to talk to me. She ignored my initial Facebook message but when I followed up, she wrote back, “Simone, hope all is well with you. It’s a little hard for me to participate in this. I was not always nice to you. I am so sorry for that.”
Is bullying amongst school-age kids inevitable? Maybe so. But I am certain that as teachers and parents we will do our best to try and prevent it, to try and eliminate it and to mitigate the results when it does occur. Could the material in this article help us to highlight the problem to both the subjects of as well as the perpetrators, of bullying?
Here is another article from the BBC on what causes bullies to do what they do: