Friday, March 20, 2015

Parents, Is It Partially Your Fault Your Child Is Being Bullied?

There's much talk about being bullied.  Most of it shows compassion and outrage.  Some of it gives suggestions on how to handle bullying within.  But where are the ways to handle a bully?

Isn't that just, if not more important to a kid?

There have always been bullies in the world.  They're just in a greater number today.  In the past, we dealt with bullies in a "fire with fire" manner.

Let me explain.

In 1960, there was a second grader named Raymond Hutton  (name changed to protect the guilty).  Now, Raymond made it a habit to inflict pain and misery into the life of first graders.  Imagine, our first recess (yeah, we still had those when I was in school) of our first grade year.  After being cooped up for hours we were finally being allowed to go outside and play. Awaiting us was a boy at least six inches taller than any first grader.  Raymond was not alone as he had acquired all the second grade sadists as his gang of outlaws.  Together, they presented a formidable force to us new kids on the playground.

People were pushed down, new school clothes were torn, and threats made to each of us ... all the while the teacher's head was turned.  It was like Raymond had the same power as Al Capone in that he had paid the teachers to look away as Al had done to the Chicago police and judges.  I'd heard about that on television, but never thought small town, Spencer, Indiana would become the same.

After about a week of Raymond's effort to pester us any way he could I'd had enough.  He had created a boiling point in me that wasn't going to leave on its own.  

I'd watched many movies and television Westerns and Police Dramas where the good guy takes down a bully, so I decided that I needed to do it.  I gathered up most of the boys and girls in the first grade, formed my own gang, and went out to find Raymond!

When he saw me leading my gang, Raymond and his five or six "tough guy" buddies decided to run for it.  You should have seen it.  Seven kids running from about 45 first graders.  We cornered them in an architectual "L"  without an exit.  Then, I called him out.  

"We ain't gonna put up with your crap (a nasty word for a 1st grader in 1960)"  I hollered.

"We're bigger than you" was his reply.

"That don't mean nuthin'.  I got a whole bunch more in my gang than you do in yours" I yelled back.  (Remember, this was first grade.  My grammar had yet to be fine tuned.)

And, that's when it began.  

Raymond rushed at me throwing punches wildly. I hit him a few times and then grabbed at him and pulled him to the ground.  Somehow, I managed to climb atop him and my punches became more accurate.  This was evident from the blood that began to flow out of his mouth.  

Then, it was his turn.  He returned the favor as he hit me in the mouth and caused me to lose a front top tooth.  This incensed me and I went totally ballistic throwing punch after punch.  (Much like Ralphie in The Christmas Story.) I remember the kids in the crowd spurring me on with their yelling that grew louder and louder.  Finally, I remember his fists relaxing and becoming just fingers going up to protect his face.

The teacher came running and broke things up before I could do any major damage.  She escorted both of us to the nurse's office where his busted lip and my lost tooth wound was attended to.  

How cold the water fountain jet felt against the hole where my tooth had been.  My tears and gasps for air soon subsided as I calmed down.  Reality set in.  

I Had Beaten The Bully!  

It was evident that I had done what no one else had attempted to do.  I fit right in with the heroes I'd watched defeat bad guys on television.  Why, even the teacher had let me off for doing so, sending me back to rejoin my class, as she took Raymond to the principal's office.  

And Raymond never bothered me again.

All of the movies and television shows had made a dramatic impact on my life to that point, and they proved the lesson they taught.  Right can overcome wrong, but you've got to stand up and do something about it. You must take the lead and not depend on others to fight your battles.

The only other time I had to get physical was when I was in the 7th grade.  There was this high school kid named Jack Rhompson (Again, a name change.). Jack used to sit behind me and some of the other younger kids on the school bus each day, take his stack of homework books and slam them atop our heads.  Yes, it hurt like helll.  Yes, Jack was bigger than I.  Yes, I got to the point of having had enough ... again. 

I finally called him out, we set up a fight for that afternoon, and I was ready for him.

Jack and I met in an alley.  He had one friend with him and I had one with me.  We raised our arms and clenched our fists in a fighting stance. Over and over we circled each other. Finally, he threw one punch that missed and I hit him in the chest with one of mine.  

It was then that Jack looked at his wristwatch, said, "I don't want to miss the bus.  Do you?"  He turned and started running back to the bus.  

I was shocked.  I'd believed this one to be a major event.  All day, I'd envisioned him beating me up into a bloody mess. Instead, Jack had shown his true colors and ran.  

I swaggered back to the bus knowing that when he'd run, he was running from me!  The rest of the kids on the bus knew it, too.  From that point on, I never got hit on the head with a stack of books again, and neither did anyone else.

So, what did I learn from these experiences?

  1. Sometimes, the only way to beat a bully is to prepare yourself stand up to the bully.
  2. Bullies are really cowards when you even out the odds.
  3. You can allow yourself to be bullied, or you can take action and do something about it.
So, why do we have all the problems with kids being bullied today if it's so simple to handle a bully?

Could it be today's parents?  I know you don't want to agree, but could parents be directly responsible that some kids are committing suicide and some are living a life of misery, instead of standing up to those who attempt to bully them?

That question ought to draw a bunch of flak.

Are today's parents seriously preparing their kids for the real world?

Are they teaching them how to handle adversity, stand up for themselves, or consider what course of action they need to pursue? 

Or, are kids facing these things daily, just as adults do in life, 
but without the necessary training.

Let's look at today's parents, as I've witnessed from reading a multitude of "mommy blogs" and other comments on the web.  

One thing that I've noticed is missing in all of these is any teaching of the children to handle adversity.  There seems to be a false facade being presented to the children of today that life is all roses as long as you pay the bills, have plenty to eat, and have a roof over your head.  This would be fine if it were true.  Unfortunately, it is not.

Oh, there's comments as to discussing sex abusers, kidnappers and murderers, but does the same apply to bullies?  I don't see it being mentioned anywhere.

Instead, I see people writing, "If I ever had someone try to bully my kids I'd go to the school and complain.  That should take care of it."

It doesn't.

In fact, much of what takes place today is done outside of the school's responsibility realm.  Texting, the web, hanging out on the corner ... none of them will be handled by the school administrators.

So, the child, knowing that you can't do anything, and not having any idea as to what to do himself or herself, enters into a state of depression.  Things continue the same, they drop further and further into their pit of despair, and suicides follow.

And the parents blame the bullies instead of sharing the blame, when both are guilty.  It's so much easier to blame the Internet, the kid down the street or even society, instead of taking a look in the mirror and realizing child raising means you prepare the child for real life conflicts.

First, help your children blend in with the rest.  Parents that push their children's outfits to please parents, instead of the child, forget that the child only wants to be one of the crowd, not stand out.  Push them to pursue activities that will allow them to interact with kids their age, instead of standing on the sidelines.  Don't forget to instruct them almost daily on the right and wrong of situations, but don't become "preachy" about it.  

Please, don't restrict your child's efforts to display their own individuality.  We're all different.  That's what makes us what we are.  We just need to expand it with others to provide us with a comfort zone of friends.  This is extremely important to a child.  Loners tend to have dangerous thoughts that grow, where they hold them back knowing they're unacceptable to the group.  Company minimizes time to nuture negativity.  

Now, here's a subject that many will be against.  Why?  Because of the concepts, "Violence breeds violence" and "Fighting never solved anything."

Fighting was the only way I could achieve a winning situation as a child in my two instances of bullying I described, as I found that it was the only thing my bullies understood.  My wit took care of many other instances.  Sometimes laughter will keep the bully at bay.  But, when it came down to dealing with those that fighting was the only way to win, I wasn't going to allow losing, and allowing myself and others to be bullied, to be an option.

Self-defense is something every child should know. Karate classes, or other types of self-defense classes, can build true confidence in a child, as well as protect them in desperate situations. While many look upon physical violence as taboo, those who bully, rape, rob and worse do not.  Please give your child an even chance if they ever have to deal with any of those mentioned.

Fighting should be a last resort.  But, if it comes down to it, I'd prefer my child being able to fight than to run, hide, and consider suicide.  

Have compassion for your children and raise them for real life situations instead of Disney fantasies.  Life is a constant battle, especially in the business world.  Narcissistic bullies thrive there and in almost any career worth having.  Sooner or later, you either learn how to deal with them or learn how to forget your worth.

I have a saying that has served me well over the years.

"There's always a snake in the grass so watch your ass."

Teach your children how to deal with all previously discussed and you can say you've done your best to prepare them.  Leave it up to the school system or other group and you're simply denying your personal accountability.  It's really that simple.

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*** I'm well aware that my options are not those chosen by "mind doctors", or those that follow their every word.  I grew tired of what most of them preached years ago when it was proven most of it was experimental suggestions instead of proven fact, or was based on limited studies that were held in slanted surroundings to validate the author's hypothesis.  

Doubt that?  Do some research and see how many publications written on child behavior have been written by those that never had a child.  Seems like a prerequisite is missing there, doesn't it?  Isn't that really like, "I watched cooks on television so now I can tell you how to cook anything you want?"