background img

Can We Bully the Bullies?

posted by:

She meandered across the street in front of my car and grinned at me with her braced teeth.

“Take your time,” I mumbled.

“She’s mean,” my son said from the passenger seat.

“You know her?”

“She’s in my choir. She’s a year older than me. Our teacher asked us to move over a little on the risers and when I did she said, ‘Take it easy, b—ch.’”

I looked at the offender again, still grinning at me in a what are you going to do about it? kind of way. “Are you kidding?” I asked my son. “When did this happen?”

“Two months ago.”

Well, never mind that the insult didn’t even make any sense…I watched this girl with a new eye.

Keep walking. But I’m watching you.

~

“I can’t go to sleep.”

This statement, coming from my 14-year-old daughter, who covets her down time, was a little bit of a shock at 11:00 PM.

“What’s up?”

“She texted me that she needed the Spanish homework printed off from last week and I told her I was already in bed. Now she’s texting me that I’m a b–ch and a whore.”

She’s what?”

 Now, this is a sports teammate of my daughter’s; everyone else on the team does not speak to this girl because of her behavior and my daughter has always tried to maintain a friendly relationship because she feels bad for her. That, mixed with a fear that this girl will spread false rumors about her throughout the school if she gets mad (and let me tell you…high school rumors are something I wouldn’t wish on anyone), has had my daughter somewhat paralyzed in this toxic “friendship.”

“She does that all the time. She texts me all the time. I didn’t give her an answer in class today and she flipped me off.”

At this point I was sitting up. “I’ll talk to her mom.”

“Her mom is just like her.”

I thought for a minute. “We need to talk to the dean.”

Her eyes filled up with tears. “Her uncle is the dean.”

~

I received a notification from my neighborhood website that a mom is looking for guidance because her child is being bullied. After trying to talk to the parent about what was going on, the parent of the bully called her many vile names. This was followed by the mother of the offender waiting at the bus stop until the frightened child got off the bus so that she could further harass her.

The mother.

My neighbor was asking for information about home surveillance systems.

~

I’ve made a huge mistake in teaching my kids to be good people.

No, seriously…it’s true. They’re scared to speak up for fear of retaliation. They go to school each day, ridiculously expecting that other people are there to learn, maybe talk in the halls a little too long, and drink their Capri Suns in peace at lunch.

In all of my parenting concerns, I didn’t foresee parents who would champion their kids stomping on the weaker, encourage children to belittle whoever they could get their insecure hands on, and generally do what they could to make their own insignificance matter.

As I sat and read the mother’s post on my neighborhood website, the words it’s not fair kept rolling around in my head. Other neighbors offered up helpful advice about restraining orders and contacting the school to ensure the child’s safety. I caught myself before I suggested that the woman install the home security system she was asking about and then send the other family the bill (which I think should be allowed – why should the victim have to pay?).

This isn’t new. When I was in school, the class before me was so bad the middle school principal quit. Two teachers in my high school couldn’t take them anymore and left. This group of kids bullied and cursed, tripped those of us they deemed lower than them and laughed as they stomped on our Trapper Keepers.

Who knows?

Maybe my own mom’s foot dangled over that brake a couple of times.

Catherine Tidd is the author of CONFESSIONS OF A MEDIOCRE WIDOWYou can read more of her pieces on her blogs,  Widow Chick and Yes, You’re Crazy.

You may also like
Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson February 3, 2016

    This makes my blood boil. Yes, bullying has always been around but with the introduction of social media, it’s exponentially worse. This is not just kids being kids…this is unacceptable. What on earth are the next steps you’re going to take?

  • comment avatar Amanda February 3, 2016

    My daughter’s friend made this announcement at school– I think it might even have been a joke at first–she said that nobody should talk to a certain boy in their class. My daughter thought that was stupid, so she walked up to the boy and said ‘Hi’ and talked to him anyway.” But the next day when my daughter came home from school, she was crushed. She told me that because she had ‘broken the rule’ and spoken to the boy who was being ignored, none of her friends would talk to her.

    Chances are that at some point your daughter will come home from school feeling excluded, targeted, or ostracized, maybe even scared. On Monday morning, she didn’t want to go to school and was crying. In the end, she went. Monday was a hard day, but by Wednesday, she was back on an even keel with her friends. “Girl fighting” or “relational bullying” is the worst. I want her to drop this group of friends but she refuses.

  • comment avatar Lucretia February 3, 2016

    The problem is that bullies raise bullies.
    The solution is tougher – but it is, to put it simply, to outsmart them.

    Bullies are insecure people. They have a knack for exploiting two things: other people’s insecurities and also their own civility and kindness.

    Girl in front of car: rolled down window… “Watch your step dear, if someone’s foot slips off the brake that’s gonna hurt.”
    Girl in choir situation saying bitch to son… Reply with “you know, good swearing is an art form – you might want to work on it.”
    Toxic girl… “You know, I like you right up until there’s something I have to tell you ‘no’ on… Because then you forget all the times I’ve said yes and get mean. That’s going to just make a lot of people drift away from you without any explanation over the years. I hope you can figure it out, because it’s really going to get in your way. With other people, of course. I wouldn’t tell you this except we are friends and I hate to think of what will happen if didn’t tell you and just drifted away like everyone else.”

    Note that those are not bullying the bully. They are, however, addressing the issue in ways bullies are not used to. Bullies are used to either direct confrontation or avoidance. Sometimes, it is the middle path that goes the furthest.

    The exception, of course, being the mom-bully. Adults don’t suddenly change in that way. That one is much trickier.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *