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The Other Side of Bullying

September 23, 2012 15 comments

Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters too 

~John Mayer

We have an awesome job as parents to guide our children. We often do that by example. Children watch what we do and say, all the time.

Bullying is no joke. When an adult labels a child a bully,  they need to make sure they have all the facts. Other children are watching.

Sadly, most of us adults have experienced bullying in one form or another, at some point of our childhood or adolescence and fully understand the hurtful mark it can leave.

I never took a school bus as a kid. My Dad drove me until I was old enough to walk on my own. I went to catholic school. I wore a white blouse, red sweater, pleated skirt, navy knee-socks and a sturdy shoe, every day. No sneakers. Sneakers were for gym class, worn in the gym; only.

School was a long walk, about two miles from the apartment building I grew up in. I was ten or eleven when I remember clearly, two girls who followed me home daily. They were also from my school. One was in my class, the other was a year younger. The route I took included a shortcut through a wildly-overgrown, empty lot between two residential streets. The lot had a path that cut right through the streets but concealed its foot bearers. The girls kept a fair amount of distance from me until I entered the lot. Once I stepped onto the pathway, there was no turning back and as soon as I stepped onto the pathway the taunting from behind began. Each day for several days in a row they’d make hurtful remarks about how fat or ugly or stupid I was, all-the-while, using their own sturdy shoes to take turns kicking up my pleated skirt from behind. Kicking up my skirt high enough of course to reveal whatever underwear I was wearing that day.

I was embarrassed. I was humiliated. It was painful.

So painful, that on the on the fourth or fifth day of “the following”, I finally summoned up enough courage to turn and face my “tormentors”.

Everyone has their limit and sometimes you need to let people know when that limit has been reached.

It surprised me as much as them when I abruptly turned and told them to “Stop!

They laughed and continued. I warned them again and told them to “STOP!”

They didn’t.

Instinct and impulse stepped in.

There was a full-force push to the ground, a stunned look from both ends of the assault and ultimately, freedom. The younger girl ended up on the ground, crying but they never bothered me again.

The question is, who’s the bully here? Maybe to some it’s debatable. Not to me.

I know what bullying is.

I would never endorse violence but I don’t believe in allowing yourself to be taunted either. Sometimes you have to tell people to stop and when they don’t, when they keep pushing or poking or pulling at you and you give them fair-warning and they still don’t stop; you need to push or poke or pull at them back; even if you are bigger than they are.

That’s not bullying, that’s setting boundaries.

Moms and dads who fail to see (or ignore) the whole picture and mislabel this as bullying are doing their sons and daughters an injustice, not to mention, sending a dangerous message.

As parents we have an awesome responsibility to teach and guide our children.

So, Mother’s — be good to your daughters.Teach them not to push, or poke or pull at other kids because they might get pushed, or poked or pulled on– back –and that’s not bullying; that’s setting boundaries.

Photo Credit #1 Mother/Daughter Silhouette

Photo Credit #2 Sturdy Catholic School Uniform Shoe/Google Images

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