Posts Tagged ‘bullying’
Last week an article went around about a nine year old girl who was being bullied about her weight at school. Her peers would yell “how do you fit into pants?” and other charming things. The solution? She would post her before photos on a website and start dieting and working out to become worthy of their praise.
Another article reports an overweight high school student becoming the school’s “healthy project.” How? Everyone in the school is “encouraging” him to eat better and to exercise. Some think that the original bullying he suffered was a good thing because it has motivated him.
Stop right there.
Every single fat person you talk to who was fat as a child was bullied. We all suffered similar taunts as we walked the halls of our schools, played on the playground, and lived with our families. For me, it was walking through my high school every single day with the boys yelling, “Sue-ey” every damn time. I learned at an early age that complaining accomplished nothing because…well, I dared to be fat. No one should have to live like that.
Listen, Mom, the problem isn’t with your fat child. The problem isn’t with your parenting.
As a mother, I know how guilt-wracking parenting is. We stress 24-hours a day about doing it right, doing it as good as the lady down the street, and creating children who will amount to something. Every single thing our children do reflects on us. Unfortunately, in our modern times, being fat is the worst thing you can be. And some of you are feeling the guilt of having a fat child.
Stop right there.
I’m not going to repeat the research here. Go research Health At Every Size, and see the statistics on dieting, weight loss, and regaining. See how overweight people can still be healthy when they eat healthy and get exercise. Learn about eating disorders and how girls and boys are being treated for them at earlier ages than ever before. Learn about the $65 billion diet industry in our country.
But please understand that the problem is not you. The mean kids are the real problem here, the bullies themselves. They are the ones who need to change.
Who in the hell gave these little monsters the right to terrorize your kids at school or on the streets? Who made them better than your kid? Who made them decide to make your child’s life miserable because of they way they look?
I say their own bad parenting did it…and that’s what you have to remember.
Honestly, no one knows why your child is fat. There are so many reasons up for grabs. You can only control some of them. You can–up to a certain point–provide healthy food and encourage exercise. The rest is genetics, environment, economics…lots of things many of us don’t have as much control over as we would like.
What can be changed are the children who are bullying your child. They can learn to control their behavior and learn that bullying is not allowed. Ever. For anything. Their parents can feel the guilt of having raised children who are mean and ill-spirited.
Schools need to intervene for weight bullying as much as they do for other forms. However, from my experience, the bullying interventions at my sons’ schools has been hit and miss. I don’t have a lot of faith that there are consistent policies in place for any of our kids. That’s why parents need to be involved and in the school’s face. Also, the schools need to face their own stigmas against the overweight.
I know it’s difficult because of the stigma on being fat in America. If you take away nothing from the weight discussion, at least consider the research on yo-yo dieting that shows that while people might initially lose weight on a diet, the majority (around 95%!) inevitably gain it all back, plus some more! This happens every time you diet. Don’t let your child start dieting and stop the cycle in the beginning.
Ask yourself: Would you let your child be bullied for a lisp? For wearing glasses? For being handicapped? Of course not!
So be your child’s hero and step in. Fight the fight for them. Understand that letting kids be bullied–and putting the responsibility for this wrong on their shoulders–is misplaced. Your child has one body. Don’t make her hate it. Make her love it as much as you love her.
Give the bullies hell.
I wish there was a way for me to find the true, monetary price of bullying. Because the figures have to be out there somewhere, but I’m not in a statistical state of mind.
Unfortunately, bullying seems to be something that sticks with us long after it is over. It seems that no matter the age of a person I discuss this with, incidents of bullying can be relived verbatim in an instant. Whether it was school yard teasing or comments from siblings, these hurtful taunts affect us long after they should.
Last week I had lunch with a dear friend and we discussed our children and the subject of bullying came up. We started with a harsh view of it: “bullying happens, there’s not much we can do about it.” Then we started exchanging horror stories. I have some. She has some.
By the time I got home and re-lived the conversation, I was feeling pessimistic and optimistic. Part of me agrees with our assessment that bullying seems to be a big part of growing up. No one seems to escape the wrath of their peers. And nothing is off limits. Looks. Weight. Intelligence. Grades. Economic status. It’s a never ending barrage of potential bullying subjects.
I am, however, optimistic, that there are some among us who no longer believe bullying should be part of childhood. These are the people who push anti-bullying campaigns and are passionately trying to save the new school children from suffering like the old school children. And isn’t that what we all are–school children at heart.
No, we don’t have to dwell on what happened to us as children. We can’t use that as an excuse for being less than we can be. But by remembering, we might be reminding ourselves of why it is so important to be kind and loving. To everyone, not just the people we like.
If you didn’t see it on Thursday, I hope you’ll give this video a gander. And treat someone just a little kinder today.
In a perfect world, bullies would grow up and be good citizens. They would realize the error of their ways and work to make the world a better place. I think this does happen to many childhood bullies. Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen for some. I think William Bailey–facing jail time for mocking a disabled classmate of his son–is an example of a childhood bully who didn’t grow out of it.
It takes a special kind of stupid to be an adult who makes fun of a child for any reason. Adults are supposed to be helping children. Adults are supposed to be the protectors of children. Mocking and bullying a child is absolutely wrong.
Once again, I feel the need to point out that childhood bullies learn their behavior somewhere. Probably at home, considering the behavior of some of the parents I’ve seen in action at schools in my neighborhood. Imagine the behavior of the children of Mr. Bailey.
Making fun of any person for any reason is never okay. It doesn’t matter what someone looks like or how they behave, making fun is not allowed. It doesn’t matter how different someone is, bullying is not allowed. It doesn’t matter if you don’t like the person, making fun is not allowed. It doesn’t matter if the person next to you is doing it, bullying is not allowed.
Black, white, fat, thin, attractive, not attractive, smart, less smart, boy, girl, short, tall…it’s all off limits. No one gets to comment about another person’s disability or appearance, ever.
Remember, this applies to everyone–adults too. You can’t sit at home and make comments about someone on television looking or acting differently. You can’t report in the media about someone’s weight gain or weight loss. You can’t comment about a celebrity’s bad dress, bad hair cut, or bad anything.
Looks. Disabilities. Off limits.
Maybe, we just need a reminder about the niceties of a polite society. Hopefully it won’t take jail time for any more of us to learn the lesson.
Here in America, we have a tendency to focus on something and suddenly it happens everywhere. I don’t know if this happens in other cultures. I don’t know if it happens more because we live in an instantaneous/share everything/share immediately society. We no longer have to be the nosy neighbor on the front porch checking out the neighbors; we can read their blogs and their twitter streams to see what’s happening.
Suddenly, information is everywhere about bullying. Everyone has a story about being bullied (I’ve told some of mine). A few of us have admitted to being a bully (yes, I’ve done that too). But not every cross word spoken your way is bullying.
I cheered when I saw journalist Jennifer Livingston spoke out to the man who criticized her for her weight. He made assumptions about her health from her looks and deserved to be publicly chastised. She didn’t ask him for his opinion. As far as I know, she never asked any of her viewing audience for comments on her appearance and health.
But was she bullied? When I saw the upsurge in comments about Livingston being bullied, I kept thinking: “nope, she was criticized.” Because it was a one-time thing and he wasn’t exactly cruel. Unless there’s more to this story and the gentleman has been writing her and calling her repeatedly, calling her fat. Since that hasn’t come out, I am assuming it hasn’t been happening.
Finally, I saw an article about Octavia Spencer’s thoughts about the incident and they were in line with my own.
It isn’t bullying if it only happens one time. According to the Merriam-Webster on-line dictionary, bullying is defined as: 1. to treat abusively and 2. to affect by means of force or coercion. Spencer’s definition is ”facing coercion or physical repercussions on a daily basis.”
Bullying is a problem. And where it exists, it should be fought. People should be enlightened about the how and why of bullying. But defining every cross or critical word as bullying diminishes it when it really occurs.
Livingston is a hero to many people, me included. She had the means and the guts to do what many people dream of daily. But her experience is completely different than the children who are bullied every day for being different. They are the ones being truly bullied. They are the ones who can’t or won’t or don’t know how to fight back. They’re the ones that need our help.
I was getting ready to write a scathing post (would have gone viral for sure) about the kinds of kids who dare bully adults. What kinds of parents they must have! The kids of today are out of control!
Then, mid-rant to Kelly about this, I remembered when I was guilty of bullying an adult.
Yes, I, along with many members of my freshman class at an all girls Catholic high school, tormented our religion teacher. We were horrific to her. We made fun of every aspect of her. There were practical jokes. Insulting limmericks. Anything and everything to be mean to her.
It was Mean Girls before there was a Mean Girls. It was so common with some of us that we never even stopped to think about what we were really doing. We were having fun at the expense of another human being and it felt good.
It must have, right? Why else would we have done it?
One thing sticks out so clearly in my mind: when another teacher found something we had done to our religion teacher and she cried. I didn’t understand it then. I was 14 years old and needed to fit in. I needed to be liked. I needed to be cool. I thought she was over-sensitive and walked away without another thought.
Today I get it. Kids have no idea of the permanence of what they say and do. It’s all part of the adolescent egocentrism that consumes them. They are invincible! The world revolves around them! The world is theirs! Everyone’s watching and no one can do anything about their behavior. It’s fun to finally get something over the adults who have ruled their worlds since birth.
As an adult, I recognize the frailty of the human spirit. I know how much remarks made to me throughout my childhood and adolescence from family, friends, and acquaintances have stuck with me long after they were made. I can’t imagine the hurt we caused this woman who only wanted to teach religion to little girls.
Words and actions are weapons. Sure, we are taught that only we can let words hurt us. They aren’t actual weapons, so we can control how we react.
Words are mean, hurtful, and are sometimes more powerful than being attacked with an actual weapon. Words scar. Words damage. Words kill.
Hopefully, words can also heal. Because I offer a heart-felt apology to that religion teacher. I offer an apology to the math teacher who cried over our horridness. I apologize to my fellow-students who knew this was wrong and didn’t know how to stop us.
Most of all, I hope that our words and actions have been forgotten.
Bullying is a much-discussed issue right now because it’s an important one. We all have been bullied or have bullied. As adults, we are now in a position where we can do something to prevent children from going through what we went through. A school has taken the harsh stance of not allowing students to talk between classes because that’s when they noticed the bullying happening most. (Sorry, I can’t find a link to any stories about this…so it just might be an urban legend!)
Is not allowing students to talk the best way to deal with bullying?
On the forum where this information was posted, some commented that if it’s what finally ends the bullying, then it’s the solution. Some said that even if one child misses being bullied at that moment then it’s effective.
This is a way to deal with the children and their input into the bullying situation. But when are we going to make the adults responsible for their part in it? After spending time in the elementary school with my son and as a substitute teacher, I’ve seen what happens.
I never witnessed outright bullying by a teacher. What I did see was the attitude of some adults that could suggest that some bullying was warranted. Yes, teachers are allowed to not like all children. What they shouldn’t be allowed to do is demonstrate that dislike. While subbing one day, I actually heard a teacher call out–over the heads of children returning from recess–that she couldn’t stand a particular child. She identified him by his full name!
Had that child been bullied in front of her, would she have done her absolute best to ensure that the bullying stopped? Or would her attitude send the unspoken message that it might just be alright in this case.
I’ve read plenty of articles on bullying to know that no one is even comfortable enough to define exactly what bullying is. Physical violence? Bad. Commenting on physical appearance? Fine if the person deserves it by being fat or different.
Honestly, I don’t know what the line is between bullying and teasing. Is teasing a part of growing up? Is teasing a precursor to flirting? Is it considered bullying when it actually bothers the person it’s aimed at? That is awfully subjective.
We could teach our children compassion from birth. That would mean parents couldn’t gossip, comment, complain, or feel superior to any other person to properly model this behavior. Have you stood outside a school for any length of time? If you have, you realize that there’s even a pecking order among the parents. Divorced moms over there. Dads of popular kids over here.
What about the parents idling in their vehicles under the very signs that proclaim “No Parking! Anytime!” Those who refuse to move their vehicles when asked or threatened, and who sometimes respond with obscenities are demonstrating their own brand of bullying.
Also, don’t think that all women have evolved beyond middle school, because there are some of us still firmly entrenched in the “let’s all be mad at X at the same time to drive her crazy” mentality.
As a parent, every time you comment about another person’s appearance, behavior, social status, etc. you are making an impression. Remember, your kids will do what you do…not what you tell them to do. Every time you think you’ve got special rights that others don’t have–like obeying traffic laws, school drop-off rules, etc.–you’ve just taught your children that they are above those things also. Except their rude behavior comes out as snarky comments between classes, rudeness in the lunch line, and not sharing the swings at recess.
It seems to simplistic, really. If we, the adults, could act like the compassionate beings we say we want the world to be filled with, we would teach our kids a valuable lesson.
Maybe keeping students silent between classes can help. I just hope that there is also silence in the parking lot and teacher’s lounge, because little ears hear everything and little eyes see everything.
I first came across this article over on Ragen Chastain’s blog Dances With Fat (which I love, love, love). She does a great dissection of the news article, so I won’t repeat her work. I want to focus on one little piece of it.
The gist of the article is that an Ohio teacher and teacher’s aide were proven by hidden tape recorder to have been bullying a 14-year old special needs student. The aide has been let go. The teacher has been placed on probation and is undergoing an eight-hour class on bullying.
What the hell?! Frankly, the minute a teacher creeps toward the line of bullying and child abuse, he needs to be booted to the curb. No second chances! No do-overs!
It’s not even a case of baseless accusation here. They have the abuse on tape! The article mentions several different episodes of abuse being heaped on this girl, so it wasn’t a fleeting, one-comment faux pas.
We trust that our kids are being protected and cared for while they spend a majority of their time away from us. We believe they are being taught in the best way possible. We believe they are being properly socialized with other children. We believe that teachers and aides are not bullying them! When even one teacher crosses the line, it’s a failure for the entire school system.
Here’s where the original article got me. Although I am completely confused why an article about Ohio teachers has a reference to a Michigan law. I guess that just says something about the state of journalism these days!
Here it is…
After a law allowing verbal bullying in schools by teachers and students as long as it was backed by religious beliefs or “strong moral convictions” [emphasis mine] was passed in the Michigan state Senate, lawmakers in the house have responded to a wave of controversy and vowed to make changes that “provide protection to all students.”
In Michigan it’s wrong to bully. Yay! They did they right thing. Unless…(unless is as bad as a but, by the way) the bully really really believes it.
It is wrong to bully in Michigan unless the bully really believes in what he’s being a bully about.
- Skin heads can legally bully the non-white citizens of the state.
- Gay bashing is OK if done from the premise that God made me do it.
- Fat kids can be targeted because we all know fat=evil.
Once again, this article confirms my belief that the people in charge of our lives (i.e., politicians) are complete idiots. For the people, by the people? Bah! Because the majority of citizens aren’t idiots and can recognize crap when we see it.
Bullying is never right. Not even when the bully really really really believes it is.