Written by Miriam Stone
I once met a 5-year-old child who was a bully. My son brought him home one day and I hoped he would soon be gone. But, they became friends. I learned that his father taught him to be a bully. His father had been bullied as a child and delighted in his child being the bully. He thought his son was getting back for his unfortunate childhood experience.
No amount of talking could shake him from what he believed. For a long time my interaction with this tiny 5 year old terror consisted of telling him that hands are not for hitting. I told him that a lot. He had a speech defect and he was defensive about it. I spent time with him mostly because I didn’t want his behavior to transfer to my son. I talked to him about bullying and what it does and then I started having a sit down around the kitchen table with he, my son and all their friends. They weren’t happy about it and if they learned anything from these talks, I’ll never know. But, they made me feel better.
But, as time went on, his speech impediment lessened and then disappeared. He had a sense of humor and was quite intelligent and he found new ways to get attention. His grades were good and luckily he had teachers who gave him positive encouragement for them. He found he could get attention for his quick wit and slowly his fists unclenched. By the time he hit high school he learned that intelligence and a sense of humor were more powerful than bullying.
He was elected president of his class. He finished his master’s degree in the time it took his friends to get their bachelor’s degree. He went to Washington D.C. and got a job with the government at a salary that made his friends green with envy. But, he very seldom came home. I would see his father from time to time and although he was proud of his son’s achievements, he lamented the fact that he thought his son was avoiding him.
That relationship was never mended because this child had gained an insight into human behavior that his father never learned.
At the time that all this occurred, bullying wasn’t talked about. It was hard to find information and I was desperate for information. I found a website called kidpower.org. At the time it was in its infancy. It was begun by a mother named Irene van der Zande. She was leading a group of students on a field trip in 1985 when a man rushed at the group threatening to take one of the children. She found little support from authorities or the community. Fearing for the safety of children, she decided to do something herself and in 1989 she founded Kidpower. Kidpower has become a global leader in child protection, personal safety, and healthy relationship skills education to prevent and stop bullying, harassment, abuse, abduction, assault and other violence; including stranger safety and self-defense skills training for people of all ages.
There are other websites out there and I’ve listed some here:
- NAPAB.org (National Association of People against bullying)
There are many others. Investigate and find some that you can trust. An answer is out there and we can find it. One thing I know for certain is this: there are more of us than there are of them. They won’t win.
These are our newest purchases on the subject of bullying:
- The Juice Box Bully: Empowering Kids to Stand up for Others
- Anti-Bullying Book for Girls
- What Can You do about Bullying by Max and Zoey (in comic book form)
- Victimproof : The Student’s Guide to End Bullying
- How I Beat My Bully : A Story Inspired by True Events