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a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people
Stolen milk money.”Four Eyes.” “Dummy.” “Space Case.” Swirlies. Noogies. That was yesterday. The modern day bully is light years away from taking our milk money, calling us four-eyes, and making the locker the perpetual home of skinny-legged kids in sweater vests. The modern day bully has become more clever, more cunning,and much more powerful. The modern day bully has learned how to hide….working the system….and taking on so many different forms. No longer can we scan life’s hallway looking for the Judd Nelson look-a-like. Bullies are everywhere….Moms with perky ponytails, four year olds, old men, handsome teenage boys….all waiting to unleash reflections of their own pain onto their next victim. The scariest thing? Bullying is cyclic. A child with a parent who exhibits bullying behaviors will likely exhibit them as well. What are you teaching YOUR children? Are we raising up a new generation of bullies??
I used to be a part of a group that met together to study while our children played. One of the kids in the group (a three year old), would frequently destroy my children’s toys, push down the younger children in the group, and went so far as to throw a Little People school bus in the face of our 18 month old from close-range. My daughter was terrified of this child. The child’s mother had invited us to go on an outing with them. Not knowing how to let this mother know that her child was not someone I wanted my kids around, I chose to not return phone calls, etc. A few weeks later, I received an email from this person letting me know that “God” had told her to tell me what a horrible awful string of cuss words I was. Moral of the story? Bullies raise bullies.
In most of our cases, we aren’t going to be going Jerry Springer on someone in front of our children, nor will we take a baseball bat to someone’s car. However, children are extremely perceptive, and take note of EVERYTHING we as parents do and say. In all of our actions and reactions, what are we teaching our kids? Do our attitudes and words reflect that other people matter? That we must treat everyone with respect? If our children hear us speaking negatively about others, they will think it’s okay. If they see us roll our eyes, snarl, or exhibit a hostile body posture, they in turn will adopt those behaviors, thinking they are acceptable.
Bullying has become out of control in today’s society. My own cousin, a middle schooler with autism, has been slapped, taunted beyond belief, and was even threatened with a stabbing. When his school failed to react, I began to think….Are we as a society numb to the effects of bullies? I think perhaps all too many turn a blind eye to the victims of bullying because they themselves have adopted bullying-like behavior in their own life. Let’s face it, we’re taught to dominate….to be the best….to take no prisoners….to let your mind be heard…to “say your piece”, etc. etc. I fear for my cousin. I fear for every child who walks the halls of today’s school. However, I’m much more afraid of the mom who is going on and on about how terrible so and so is in front of her six year old. I’m terrified of the mom who makes the teacher cry, the waitress weep, and acts out in road rage. Those parents are raising up a whole new generation of bullies…Bullies that will exist far beyond the reach of middle school….These bullies will blend into society, waiting to verbally assault anyone who crosses them. Is that who we want our children to grow up to be?
Think about it. When I stop to consider who the most biting, passive/aggressive, “I’m gonna call you out” type people are that I know, in just about every case, their children are very ill-behaved, prone to act-out, have propensities towards physical aggression, etc. We have to intervene NOW…but not with our kids…with US. Be the example. Change your heart. Tame your tongue. Teach respect. Foster love. Break the cycle.
For further thoughts on bullying, please check out the following posts:
Mean Girls: When the Plastics Invade Kindergarten (Another example of when a parent was raising up the kindergarten version of Mean Girls..)
Better Service or Better Self-Control? A Society of Veruca Salts (My thoughts on controlling our bullying-like behaviors)