Brace yourselves…my blog post today is about neither books nor travel.  It’s about bullying.  Far too many really good kids I know are getting beaten down and bullied and the schools are not getting a handle on it.  Zero tolerance policy is a fallacy.  But I don’t blame the schools entirely.  Mostly, I blame the parents.  I don’t generally like to play the blame game, and feel free to shout me down, but whatever else you do, let’s discuss.

When I was a kid, we tended to think of bullies as kids who were bullied themselves and passed it along to others.  What I actually see behind most of the bullies are parents who make excuses for their kids, don’t rein them in or even pay much attention to what they’re doing, don’t draw boundaries or create consequences. From here I see two divergent things: those parents who immediately deal with their kids when they realize what’s going on, in which case the behavior is often nipped in the bud, and those who don’t, in which case it isn’t.  Many of the former and even some the latter are good people, some so nice you hate to bring things up and hurt feelings; you wonder how their kids’ behavior ever became an issue.  But silence doesn’t solve the problem.

The kids who are an ongoing threat are often those whose parents when confronted with their child’s behavior tell the person talking that they must be mistaken.  In some cases, they go a step farther.  Since their child would never do such a thing; yours must be a liar…or an instigator.  Yes, let’s blame the victims.  If by some miracle, they’re convinced there’s some fault, their reaction is not determination to get to the root of things or teach tolerance and empathy or offer up concrete consequences, but to give the kid a slap on the wrist and maybe take away video games for a night.  Really?  Children are getting emotionally scarred, some to the point where they’d rather not face another day, and you’re taking away video games?  I’m not saying one serious punishment will change the behavior.  Not at all.  But awareness, interaction, teaching tolerance and conversing with your kids might make a difference.  I’m talking about not spouting vitriol that the kids might adopt or creating an environment in which anything goes.  About not being blind to your child’s faults or creating such a buffer to protect them from the consequences of their actions that they never feel there are any.

Last week I heard that there were kids up at our lodge throwing stones, damaging cars and a five year old girl.  I wish I could say this surprised me.  A few weeks before Christmas (or maybe a bit more), two boys in our neighborhood were out shooting bb guns…at my son.  When a mother came to collect them and Ty told her what had happened, she said she’d deal with it.  However, based on the fact that her boys are constant problems in the neighborhood, I don’t have any faith in the response.  Ty likes to handle things on his own.  If he’d called me when it happened, I’d have called the police.  I told the kids exactly that the next time I saw them, but I doubt it will stop them from attacking the next kid.  In fact, I don’t think they’re going to stop or their mother will have her blinders knocked askew until the police actually come knocking at her door.  Even then….

I found out about No Name-Calling Week when Rob Neufeld did a piece on it and the DEAR BULLY anthology to which I contributed in this weekend’s Asheville Citizen-Times.  The No Name-Calling Week website has planning kits and some great resources for parents, teachers and students.  I encourage people to check it out.

I do wish, though, that we had all the answers.  I wish we could reach the parents who really need to be reached and that we could truly stop bullying before it happens and not just deal with the aftermath.  Please, please, if anyone has further ideas, resources, links, I’d love to hear them and to help spread the word.

Published by luciennediver

Author of books on myth, murder and mayhem, fangs and fashion.

8 thoughts on “Bullying

  1. I’m really glad you are talking about this topic. I have a cousin who had been bullied. Just yesterday a client of mine and I were talking about this. We both agreed the school should have some kind awareness mandatory class. I wish they would be super strict on things like this. It’s horrible that it’s tolerated.

    I wish Ty would had mentioned it to you so you could had called the cops. Sometimes, some kids that’s exactly what they need. If the consequences to their actions were, well, real consequences. Maybe they would think twice.

    Have you read Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher?

    OH!! LOVE that book! It;s a perfect example as how words and the way you treat others can affect a person. I think every student should have to read that book. It really has helped A LOT of kids. It’s saved lots of lives and I imagine that maybe-hopefully a few bullies who have read it might think twice.

    Spreading the word!!

    Thanks for the links too.


    1. Martha, Thirteen Reasons Why has been on my “to buy” list for some time. I’ve just known it would be an emotional read, and I wasn’t sure I was braced for it, but it’s definitely been moving to the head of the line lately. Thank you for the recommendation.

      I’m so glad there are books and resources out there that help those on the receiving end of the bullying. I just wish there were more kids on the doling out end who were thinking twice. Instead, some seem to take a certain sad amount of pride over making others cry or worse.


      1. Hi Lucienne,

        I think you’ll be okay reading it. I’m a wus and I had no problem. 🙂 Actually I hadn’t heard of the book until I received an email from PW saying how it saved lives. I’ll have to email you the interview and article. It was really interesting. It was rejected many times too. And now a movie is in the making (if you haven’t heard) which I can’t wait to see!

        Speaking of good reads–Fangtastic is fantastic so far! I had to work over the weekend so I am not as far along as I wanted to be but just wanted to let you know that I’m enjoyed it. Thanks again!


  2. Great post.
    When my oldest was just a little second-grader, I had a problem with a kid at the bus-stop. First, I found the kid and told him how bad it looked that a kid as big as he was, was picking on a little guy like my son, a 3:1 ratio. I told him he’d be sorry if he picked on my son again. It was alright for a week after that, then it started up again. I tracked down the kid’s absent father and told him I might need to make a public demonstration out of him. I told him I was only five foot tall, but if beating the heck out of him like his son was doing to mine, would teach this man to act like a father and control his bully son, that I would be on my way to do so ~ If that was what was needed.
    The boy brought over an apology letter in the morning for my son, I never had problems with that kid again, and I guess the father made some plans to be a father again.
    As parents we need to keep our kids talking. That’s the best answer I can find. And when we need to be grizzly-bear mamas, let us be, at least the other kids will learn our kids are not their prey.


  3. We actually moved two years ago over bullying. We bought our home when our daughter was 5 and the bullying began almost immediately. As the years progressed, do did the bullying. It all came to a head when I confronted the mother of two particularly cruel kids. One was making fun of her for not making the dance team and the younger one was throwing rocks at her head and shooting bb’s at her. Once I confronted the mother, I received the response that, in fact, my kid must be a liar. She later recanted (when I threatened to call the police) but the damage was done and our house was for sale. We still love in the same area and she still goes to the same school, but these kids don’t go near her. Ever. I feel for those that cannot escape as we did. Had the trend continued, I’m not sure that my “bullying” side wouldn’t come out. =/


    1. Emily, I’m so sorry to hear about what your daughter went through. It kills me when parents enable their kids’ bad behavior. You’d think they’d want to stop it before it becomes ingrained.


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