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Bullies Are Cowards

I read a news story this morning about an 11 year old boy who hanged himself, presumably because of the bullying he was subjected to at school.

His mother tried to get help for him, but no one at his school would acknowledge that a problem existed.

Until it was too late.

This story has haunted me all day.  And has strengthened my resolve to homeschool my children.

The subject of bullying has been a hot topic over at the Mom’s Homeroom Message Boards for the last couple of weeks.  (I’m the online moderator, and for that saga of surprise employment go here.)  I’ve been following a number of stories in that thread on bullying, and it breaks my heart when I can sense the anguish in a parent’s words as they describe the treatment their child is subjected to.  And yet they cannot get the school authorities to help, or even see that there is a problem.

I know that bullying has been around as long as children have been picking their noses.  I myself was on the receiving end of bullying in the 8th grade.  I was fresh out of parochial school, after having moved to a new state.  The class mean girl had it in for me, and threatened to beat me up every single day on the school bus.

Is it wrong to secretly hope that she grew up to have a hairy wart on her face?

I was too frightened to say a word to anyone.  It was a well known fact that she packed a pocket knife.  While I was armed only with groovy white go-go boots and baby blue eye shadow.  I didn’t have a prayer.

It wasn’t until I befriended a MUCH BIGGER girl, that the bullying ceased.  I never told my parents.  Why?  I don’t have an answer.

Have you all dealt with issues of bullying involving your kids, and how do you handle it?


17 Responses to Bullies Are Cowards

  • And, does anyone have any ideas on bullying among your own children? Do you have a child who bosses the others and forces them to do his or her will?

  • I’ve read about that incident here in GA as well. In fact, I showed it to my kids so that we could talk about bullying again. I hesitated, b/c I didn’t really want to bring up suicide, but still I think that seeing the reality of how painful this stuff can be is powerful. We’ve talked about bullying before – what bullies can be like, who might be especially likely to be the target of bullies, and what we can do if we see it happening. How the victim would feel if someone stuck up for them. How it can help if a caring adult becomes aware of the situation. I think that talking to our kids about this will mean that they’ll be more likely to notice when someone needs a friend – and more likely that they’ll feel a responsibility to speak up. And yeah, I’m really glad we’re able to homeschool as well.

  • I’m not familiar with the story that you are referring to, but I’ve heard others just like it and it is heart breaking. We homeschooled up until two years ago and my children are now in public school ( two 5th graders and one 10th grader ). Our school is wonderfully protective of the children. Plus ( and I’m not bragging here, but just making a point ), my children are well liked by their teachers. So I feel like I could go to the teachers if there was a problem with a bully and they would do something about it. But if the teachers did nothing about it, I would. I would not keep putting my children in a situation where they are continually intimidated and abused. I do not know if the child of this story told his parents of his fears, but in other stories I’ve heard the parents have known. They continued to send their children to school, on the bus, etc., expecting the school to do something about it when clearly they were not willing to do a thing about the bully. We parents really must be our children’s greatest protectors. That’s why they were given to us. But for some reason, it’s just not very popular these days to be protective of our little ones.

  • I picked up my middle school son one day from school (his older brother happened to be home sick that day). I could tell something was wrong with him. His face was really red and he looked on the verge of tears. I asked what was wrong with him and he kept saying “nothing, let’s just go home.” FINALLY, I got it out of him that two boys jumped him. One held him down, another jumped on top of him and started hitting him, and a third stood as the lookout. I FREAKED completely out!! I took him to the school office and asked for the principal (who was out) and told the secretary what happened. (My son BEGGED me not to tell anyone out of fear) I warned her that those boys had better not so much as look sideways at him again or I would have them and their parents and the school down at the police station – pressing charges. That was 7 or 8 years ago… but he tells me they never bothered him again.

    I wanted to hurt some boys pretty bad myself at that moment. But, I seriously would’ve gotten the police involved if anything further came of it.

  • My son was bullied by 3 boys who not only physically threatened him, but continued to make sexual comments as well. He is the book worm- the good kid who likes math. We were VERY fortunate to have a school who takes this seriously. The principal stepped in when I called, and my older son made sure to watch over little brother too. I offered to home school/ change schools for my son, but he refused. He didn’t want to let them win. AND, he had some sympathy for those bullies later on. They all had significant home problems. It’s a tough problem. I know I wanted to throttle them!!!!

  • My son has been going through some bullying this year and I wasn’t sure how to handle it. Fortunately, his teachers heard some of the virulent things the children in his class were saying and informed the vice principal. His school has a strict policy against bullying and programs in place to teach about it. The VP spoke to the class in general and to the known offenders one-on-one. The parents of the known offenders were notified. It has stopped and my son wonders why everyone is nice to him now. I was afraid that he would be more of a target, but that hasn’t happened. I feel very fortunate. My daughter is having issues on the bus, even from a child from our church. The meanness seems to never end!

  • Augh! Our small Christian school is closing it’s doors this year, and my husband is adamantly AGAINST homeschooling, so it’s off to public school my 3 girls go. I’ve known for awhile, since I work at the school, so I’ve been adjusting to the news, and prepping them, but I’m scared. We also live in a really bad school district and are now trying to sell our home so we can move to the next town over with excellent schools. But the fact that my girls have been in a very small, Christian school since preschool, means this is going to be a HUGE change for all of us. I have friends who’ve had great experiences when their children went to public school.
    Bottom line, I have to trust that God knew this was coming, and HE has a good plan in it.

  • This is a tough one! Thankfully we can avoid much of it while the kids are young (home schooling!) and establishing their self esteem and how they see themselves. But we have encountered it at church and other places. We’ve talked with our kids about the fact that many bullies have low self esteem/insecurities and have gone on to pray for the bully. I think that helps the kids see them through God’s eyes versus as “the enemy”.

  • One of my favorite reasons for homeschooling!!

  • Wow! That is such a sad story. An 11 year old! My son is 10.

    We homeschool too…but I can see it even with the neighbourhood kids…and yup, sometimes the church kids too. I walked down to the park to have a ‘chat’ with a kid who my daughter told me was making comments to her about wanting her bike, and he laughed in my face. He had NO respect for an adult talking to him at all…he was about 12 or 13 years old. Also, the suggestion that I would take a walk to his house to discuss it with his mother was met with a ‘she won’t care!’ and he and his buddy laughed about that too. How sad. Probably she wouldn’t have cared. And that is how bullies are made, apparently.

    I see that I need to have an ongoing conversation with my kids about how they are treated by kids in the neighbourhood too. I like that our kids, along with neighbourhood kids, play in our backyard for the most part, where I can keep a window or door open so I can hear the conversation that goes on. I then try to talk to the kids about how so-and-so handled something, or about how mean someone’s conversation was. We talk about it and I hope that helps them to know how to deal with it.

    It is a hard line to walk of how much to spell out to younger children when they aren’t in the school yard being exposed to it daily. They still need to be aware of what can happen though, and it is hard to know how much to tell them to prepare them to deal with it!

  • We had to deal with a bully in the 1st grade. It was more teasing than anything. Fortunately, the teacher took it seriously and nipped it in the bud.

    I was bullied in 4th grade. She threatned to beat me up every day. She hated me until the day we graduated and to this day I don’t know why. (And yes, I wished a whole lot of things on her, warts and all.)

  • I too read the news story and it broke my heart—I hate to say this but if a parent/student reports bullying–it is your responsibility to make sure the school follows up on it.

    My son was being bullied during cafeteria time(they were teasing and poking him–inappropriate physical contact) in the 7th grade. We only found out by accident–he told the teacher once about something else and got the “don’t be a tattle-tale” lecture. When we found out, I immediately emailed his teacher, the guidance couselor, vice-principle and principle explaining exactly what happened and the boys involve. I explain this was a “totally unacceptable” situation and that I expected immediate action. The principle had all the boys in his office the next day and explain how the cow ate the cabbage. I was told several of the boys were in tears after it was explained that charges could be brought against them and their parents (this was totally from the principal–I had been saving that for my follow-up if nothing was done). The all wrote letters of apology to my son and he’s never had any more trouble. He also understands now what bullying is and that is it not allowed.

    As a parent you have to make sure the schools follow-up on what they are supposed to do.

  • I was bullied in the sixth grade by a girl who lived on my street. She’d follow me home from the bus stop saying horrible things to me, and I just did my best to keep walking.

    Once, she said some horrible things about my mother, and it was then I turned and faced her, and told her to leave me alone for good.

    She did.

    I had told my parents, and my parents had tried the school authorities, as well as the bus driver, but nobody could “do” anything since no one ever saw it…

    My parents encouraged me to keep ignoring her as long as it never got physical, which it didn’t. It was her “yo mama” comment that pushed me over the edge. I don’t remember what I said, only that she never said another word.

    I know too many other horror stories though, and bullying has played a huge part in my decision to homeschool from the start.

  • My son is 4, barely, and was recently involved in a situation where he was being bullied by the older brother of some friends of his. The incident happened during an Easter party/egg hunt at the house. I heard my son screaming at the top of his lungs in the upstairs play room, so I naturally ran up to see what the problem was. I just assumed, on my way up the stairs, that he was just being honery until I got to the top and witnessed this child and 8 of his friends, all 2 to 4 years OLDER than mine, with my son backed into a corner. They were kicking and hitting at him and making contact at sometime and I LOST it!
    This child is one of those kids who has obvious issues but his mom, a friend of mine, refuses to see them. Example: he flipped his mom off in a busy bowling alley in front of all of us and she did nothing but smile.
    We have decided that we will no longer go to their house when this older child is around. Our son loves to play with this child’s younger twin brothers, who are much closer in age to him, but we will not go to their house anymore for playdates.
    Incidently, this is yet another reason why we are homeschooling our son too.

  • You know, I was bullied through elementary school, middle school & high school. Once I graduated and moved on with my life, it hasn’t happened anymore. I met new people that didn’t have a clue about me, and I hadn’t changed a bit. I was the same person. Amazing isn’t it? What I’ved learned from the experience, I’ve passed down to my offspring is that you treat everyone the same (don’t single out anyone that may seem different, or that other people may not like.) “Judge not other’s for you too will be judged”. My children have been successful in this endeavor, and are well liked by all classmates (my daugher is in band, both son’s are in JROTC.)

  • My son was bullied by the same boy through Jr. High and high school. I knew the boy had a rough home life so I made my son ignore him for years…then one day he spit in my sons face. I went to school and told the principal who said nothing could be done since no one saw it. I told the principal right then that I was giving my son permission to do whatever he had to do to get that boy to leave him alone and warned the principal that if he did he had better call me. A few weeks later the boy made the mistake of telling my son some things he would like to do to my daughter..in detail. They were on the bleachers and my son grabbed him by the neck, hung his head over the edge of the bleachers and told him if he EVER touched his sister he would beat the sh*t out of him.
    I don’t agree with violence (and the language) but I was proud of him for standing up for himself and his sister.

  • Read John Gatto. Weapons of Mass Instruction. It will change your life. We home school too. But when it crosses my mind to want 8 hours a day of kid free time I just reread that book. Bullies are probably not even the worst problem at school.