In regards to my own bullying story, God really erased this time in my life from my emotional radar. I no longer think this way, I no longer am a mad girl, I do not inadvertently test myself against teenage-me and have not for a very, very long time. I do not carry sadness or anger from this experience and I forgave this girl years ago. That has nothing to do with her, forgiving her, and everything to do with me and the status of my heart and it’s potential for growth. I fully believe that growth is dependent on one’s personal freedom regarding forgiveness. Think on that a moment. And think of people you know who you can say have the same issues they had 8 years ago or repeat the same behaviors over and over that cause harm to themselves and the health of their life….it’s always true that they are a person who hasn’t forgiven something. I truly do not think about my bully, I do not think about that time at all, only in a vague way of remembering how much I hated high school and it’s particular vulnerability (this is why I love teenagers so much). Being a teenager is so hard and there is a forced vulnerability to that stage of life. (I’ll get to that soon, like maybe in another post on another day.) I don’t feel sad or angry anymore for me- I feel sad and angry for the girls (and boys) who are going through it now. And there is a vast number of them.
I am thankful for my own “recovery” so to speak. I do believe it was birthed from forgiveness and not just mine for Katie. But God’s for me, as well, as that is what made the forgiveness for other’s a possibility in the first place.
But the fact is, some kids who are bullied do not recover.
Actually, some victims never even give themselves the chance to grow up and grow out of this time and recover. Their heart don’t get the chance to heal because they give up. On life. Completely.
I don’t blame them.
Bullying is not a little deal, it’s not something that “just happens” and “part of life.” I read a post today from a homeschooling mom who says she gets asked often ” but if you homeschool, how will they learn to deal with bullying?” Really? Is this something we are supposed to value and desire for our kids? How absurd. Bullying is not something that should be happening to our kids, it’s not normal and it’s not acceptable. And it’s not a reason FOR public schooling (use other arguments, people, that one is lame.)
I’m going to say that again: Bullying is not something that should be happening to our kids, it’s not normal and it’s not acceptable. To their credit, many schools have passed stricter rules against bullying and I think most teachers and parents attempt to put bullying to rest. But overall, it hasn’t worked.
In fact, it is my opinion that because of social media outlets like facebook and instagram, bullying is worse than ever and getting worse every single day. News stories abound around us regarding teens and preteens who take their lives over pictures that’ve been posted of them and comments made on them that I cringe to even think of. Two of my own kids have dealt with bullying, one at church and one at school. The first at the age of FOUR! This isn’t just crazy to me- right? My oldest had a bully in preschool. For several months another kid stole his snack, out of his backpack or from him every single day. He kicked him repeatedly, he called him names, he teased him for his shoes and his hair and his things. And my son, at the age of four, didn’t even tell us about most of it. It was almost three months before we had details and could help put a stop to it. This is too young. This is TOO young. Again in first grade he was taunted by another boy who terrified him to his core- he threated to kill the teachers and burn down the school and kill the other kids. Adam’s questions about killing were some of the hardest we dealt with. There is a lot to that story of that season. I’m glad it’s over.
There have been experiences with softer bullying too. With my daughter there is the “friend” who plays the comparison game about everything until Lily is just heartbroken and confused: “My skirt has pockets and your’s doesn’t. I am better than you because I am older…taller. I have more toys than you. My bow is bigger than your’s.” There is so many comments to break down, to belittle. And these little ladies are four years old. Four years old. Where does that come from? My daughter cries and looks at me everytime we are around this child, she asks questions like “Why is my friend so mean? Why does she say things that aren’t nice? Does she not love me?” There’s been some other minor things with my oldest, where boys would selectively exlude him. How I remember this. One day you’re in the group, the next day you are out. Every few days we would endure sadness about being left out of sitting at the ‘cool’ table. This was first grade. And I know, it’s not a huge deal. It really isn’t. Some one is always leaving you out of something. There isn’t a rule in life that says everyone must include you. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard to deal with the little things. And it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be teaching these kids out of this, how to NOT be mean. And I certainly will continue to work to make sure it’s not MY kids who are doing this belittling and bullying because even the minor stuff is major stuff to me. And what will it turn into? Why are kids this way?
I really don’t know why. I don’t know why a four year old is already like this. I thought I understood bullying. I thought I got why 15 year old girls felt a need to elevate themselves out of their own insecurities by being mean to other 15 year old girls. But four year olds? And to what limit? My own experience is so COMMON. But we had no facebook, no twitter, and the best way to make fun of someone’s picture was to mark it up and copy it over and over and hang it in the halls. I don’t remember that ever happening aside from television.
But it is worth ALL OF US asking: WHY is it happening so young? Why does it seem so much worse across all ages? What creates a bully and how do they choose their victims? Most importantly, What are we going to do about it?
Bullyingstatistics.com says that there were about 160,000 children that missed school repeatedly out of fear of being bullied in 2010. “Bullycide” is a new term in our society that references the fact that many bullied tweens and teens are TAKING THEIR OWN LIVES after episodes of serious bullying. Is this some sign of weakness in those teens? Or have we given a free reign to evil in allowing bullying to be ‘normal’? What do you think?