It’s Anti-Bullying month and I’m sure most of you have been hearing about the recent suicide of Amanda Todd. She was 15 years old and bullied mercilessly by kids at school and online. This was a tragic situation that no one deserved. She was only a young girl and it reminds us that at some point all of us have been impacted by bullying. For us, bullying has touched both my life and my son’s; however, how we dealt with those experiences are very different.
I’m short (he isn’t) so when I was growing up if I was picked on, I reacted with bravado and bluster. Not because I was tougher than anyone but to protect or stand up for myself against bullies. I learned quickly attitude goes a long way when dealing with bullies.
We talk to our son about standing up for himself and the importance of confidence when dealing with bullies. Unfortunately, no matter how much we think we’ve prepared our child, bullies will find a way to throw you a curve ball.
Last year at my son’s school, there was a young girl who picked on the boys, including my son. She was bigger and taller than most of the boys in the 5th grade and used her size to intimidate some of the kids around her. I was ready to rush to the principal’s office and bring down the wrath of the heavens to protect my boy. He said, “No, I’ll deal with it.” And he did. Maybe not the way we would have but we let him handle the situation.
He and his friends chose to remove themselves from confrontational situations and talk to a teacher if she became too aggressive. He explained he couldn’t defend himself physically against her She’s a girl, I can’t hit her! This year, she doesn’t appear to harrass the kids anymore. Everyone, including her has moved on.
Did my son learn to avoid conflict or did he do the right thing? I don’t know, at the time I had to support his decision to deal with it his way. I’ve seen him defend himself against another boy so I think the fact she was a girl is what put him in a difficult position. I believe he did what he felt was right in his heart and as his mom, that’s all I can ask for. I’m very proud our boy was able to get through a difficult situation without having to resort to violence or calling us to fix it. However, we made sure he knew we were there to support him 100% no matter what happened.
It’s interesting how differently he and I handle confrontation. He has no tolerance for theatrics while I have a tendancy for the dramatic. If I had been in his shoes, I would have jumped on a table and hollered like a banshee about dishonor. (Actually, I did do this once but in my defense, I was being picked on.)
As I think of my own, our child and Amanda’s experiences, my sympathies go out to Amanda’s family. I can’t imagine going through this kind of heartache, much less doing so in the public eye. I hope and pray her story is a wake up call and will help give our kids back the power to defend themselves. Violence should never be the answer but being someone’s victim shouldn’t either.