May 01, 2017

My Kid Was Bullied and It's All MY Fault

My middle kid motioned for me to come into the building.  I couldn't imagine why.  He ran to the car saying "Mom, it's important.  Come here."  I quickly put on my shoes and raced inside to find my oldest son being consoled by a group of women and a group of young men being ushered out the building.

My son was calm and I could tell he wasn't physically injured.   Yet, I could see he was visibly shaken.

"What happened", I asked looking around.  

One of the ladies explained a group of boys had been taunting my son and he retaliated. Another lady explained some of the kids said he had asked them to stop but this one kept at it and my son finally turned around and punched him.  He had had enough.

I feel terrible because a few weeks earlier my kid told me he really didn't want to go back to this program.  He told me some of other kids were making jokes at some of the mentors and class leaders.  Some kids were calling them names saying "I wish this big, fat 'b' would shut the h*ll up", talking during the workshops, swearing and cursing.  I spoke with the program director and felt she understood my concerns.  I told my kid to ignore the other kids and just keep moving forward in the program.  A week or so later, my kid told me these kids were just rude and ornery towards some of the other kids.  He really wanted to quit the program and again I phoned the program director.  We had a nice discussion about the challenges of learning to work with different personalities.  Again, I talked to my kids and decided to stay in the program.

Teasing, taunting, provoking others to get a rise thinking they won't respond is cruel. Some say it's just kids being kids but I beg to differ.  The effects of bullying affect a person physically and mentally.  For some the effects result in suicide, injury and death. 

A "2014–2015 School Crime Supplement survey (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicated that, nationwide, about 21% of students ages 12-18 experienced bullying."  

https://www.stopbullying.gov/image-gallery/what-you-need-to-know-infographic.html
Courtesy of StopBullying.gov
Over and over my kids told me and over and over I listened but encouraged them to look past the actions of others.  In retrospect, that was so stupid of me. 

My kid did everything he was supposed to do.  He told me what was happening.  Reporting the incident to adults is the first thing kids can do to stop bullying.  Teach your kids to
TELL SOMEONE
If no one knows you are being bullied then no one can help you.  So encourage your kids to a teacher, tell a counselor, tell someone if they are being bullied.  

Parents, teachers and community leaders, we need to be educated about what to do when bullying is reported.  I thought I was doing the right thing by talking to my kid about it and speaking with the program director but I should have done more.  Talking to the program director didn't quell the frustration that was building up in my kid nor did It do anything to keep the other kid from his rude behavior.  Teaching kids to look past the actions of others because that's the way of the world isn't the right thing to do. 
We must empower our children and teach them conflict management.  We must teach our kids to respect others.  We as adults must teach our kids to protect themselves.  

I am sorry my kid responded the way he did but I am proud he stood up for himself.  I hope this will be a lesson for both the kids.

For tips on how to prevent bullying and what we as parents should know about bullying, visit https://www.stopbullying.gov.

What about you?  Has your child ever been bullied?  What did you do? 


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