Were you ever bullied? Were you a bully?
I’m watching the news and I hear about bullying. Bullying seems to be in the media frequently over the last several years. I suppose it stems from the newest media for bullies and bullying: social media. I loathe bullying. I always have and I always will. I was bullied in my childhood. I was shy and introverted and sometimes people took that for weakness. Eventually I discovered that when I did speak, I had the gift of gab. Apparently all the reading I did as a child gave me an arsenal of words and phrases that many others my age didn’t have. So later when people even attempted to try and bully me I would shut them down with my words. I used this tactic throughout high school and managed to get by mostly unscathed.
When I began working in the schools I saw a lot of bullying. Too much bullying. I worked at a school that ranged from kindergarten to 8th grade. Literally every day I was in the middle of some type of incidence of bullying. How these kids learned anything when they were so busy worrying about who was saying or doing what, I will never know. At first I would try to be out during lunch and recess to keep an eye on the kids and make sure they were behaving. Eventually, I realized I couldn’t safeguard all 800 students and do my work as a Counselor. That’s when I decided to get my students to be advocates for each other. Surprisingly, it worked for the most part. They’re kids and they are still learning and growing. You can’t expect them to be perfect. No one on earth has that distinction.
I started with my 8th graders since they were the oldest and most respected among the students. They were great resolving issues with students younger than them. Of course, by resolving issues, to them this meant bossing younger kids around and they loved it. But when it came to resolving issues with their own age group…they couldn’t do it. They became worried about their own reputations and didn’t want to get involved anymore. From there I worked my way down. Not surprisingly my most compassionate group were my kindergarteners and 1st graders. Their innocence was so beautiful you never wanted them to lose it but knew that one day they would.
What does one gain by being mean to others? Is it fulfilling? Does it make you a better person or make your life easier to live? Maybe the next time we want to insult someone and hurt the feelings of others, we should let these questions cross our mind. If you work in a school or if you are in school and you see someone being harassed, I implore you to act first and think about your reputation later.