Is there a solution to this problem?

Monday, March 12, 2012

If there is anything I cannot tolerate it’s bullying in any form, taunting, physical or emotional. It is just not okay to do, to anyone.  My boys know my stand on this is. Based on my previous experience of being bullied at school, I can understand, empathise and speak first hand about what it is like on the other side, being a victim of bullies but there is a third side too.
My 10yo mentioned casually at dinner table how some kids, a small group of 4 or 5 were taunting and throwing their lunch and 1child in the group spitting his lunch at another Year 5 boy at school.

I was horrified and he went on to say that it was because on a school camp this boy needed the toilet and ‘pooed in his pants’ - a moment which some kids would have found funny at the time –has now, because of a minority, become a definining moment in this child’s life – at least for the remaining two years of his primary school.

Thankfully, we have the opportunity to perhaps shed new light on the ‘event’ and explained to our son that the boy may have had diarrhea and may have been sick.

I did ask my son if he had ever done anything like the other boys are doing, teasing or bullying the boy. He replied, “no, of course not”.

We asked him, ‘Have you ever done anything about it, have you told someone, a teacher maybe?” He replied, “The teacher isn’t there to see it, so I would probably get blamed”. We continued to brainstorm and asked ‘Have you ever told them (the bullies) to stop?”

“No, I can’t do that, then they’ll tease me and say you like the boy who poos in his pants”.

So this is the dilemma, how do we empower kids to stop bullies. We hear alot about the bully and victim but there are so many who know it’s wrong, who see it happening, who have compassion and then are unable to do something about it – practically. My son a popular, friendly boy has realised that standing up sometimes has consequences and I was lost for words, with no ‘win-win’ solution in sight at that moment.
I was reminded though, by my son’s honesty, about an incident that happened to me. Years after I had left school, I had caught up with someone from school – we weren’t friends in school but later got closer and she said to me oneday, “I used to feel so bad, the kids were so cruel to you”. At least her honesty helped me see that it (the bullying) was bad, that acknowledgement that it was abnormal and most importantly someone noticed.

Here is my question:

What would you tell your child to do in this instance? Is there a 'win-win'? Should children be expected to stand up for someone?


Anonymous said...

Is it possible for your son to "distract" the bullies, saying something like, "come on, let's just go and do... or let's go and play... or let's go and sit over here..." Like as if picking on that kid is really "boring" or something, like he's "cooler" than that...

It's not so much sticking up for the kid, thus making him vulnerable to bullying himself, and it's not joining in... it's kind of a "happy" medium for lack of a better way to explain it...

Parent with Potential said...

Hi, Yes that is a great suggestion. It isn't really his group of friends though so it is a little harder to say 'hey, let's go do such and such instead' but certainly an option and we're open to options:)

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