But they aren’t the only bully. There are others that are more subtle, ones that whisper gossip and ostracize kids from their peers. They give looks and stares that make otherwise-confident kids crumble with insecurities.
Administrators have implemented policies against bullying in schools, and there’s been much discussion about making good choices off campus. But teachers aren’t always around when kids behave poorly—after school or on weekends.
It’s up to parents to step in and know what your children are up to. Bully prevention only succeeds if the message is carried throughout your community—at home, school, work, church, sports teams, or other organizations people participate in.
I can’t imagine anything more heartbreaking than seeing your child victimized. As a parent, however, I realize my responsibility in being a good example to my kids.
When a mother told me my child was the bully on the school bus several years ago, I didn’t believe her. My reaction was likely common to any parent whose child had been accused of something unfavorable. I was in unfamiliar territory and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
Are you sure you’re talking about my son?
Not the other boy in class with the same first name?
And the best line of all: My son would never do that.
At that moment, I would have put my life on the line, confident my son had nothing to do with whatever incident this mom described on the bus ride home. They were in the second grade. How bad could this really be? My thoughts swirled in a billion different directions in an instant, scanning every possibility I could envision.
And then, I realized what I was doing.
Just a few years earlier, I was the mom reaching out to a bully’s parents, looking for them to correct a problem. Instead, they denied it, and their son continued to tease peers in his class, finding other victims along the way. The last thing I wanted was to be that type of parent.
I thanked the mom for the call and talked to my son. It was true. A dare for a piece of candy ended in a punch to the new kid in the district. The boy wasn’t hurt—not physically, anyway. Emotions were bruised, but soon after, the boys became friends, as did the parents.
Making that follow up call to the mom wasn’t easy. Then again, admitting you’ve done something wrong never is. Not all situations end as well as this one did. The nightly news is quick to remind us of how far bullying can go. Teen suicides and school shootings are just a few examples of what can happen when bullies go too far. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Don’t stand by and watch someone getting teased or excluded. Get involved. Be a friend.
Together, we can stop this epidemic.
Aftermath doesn’t touch on bullying, although the main character, Emma Bennett, experiences stares and whispers when joining her peers shortly after her father died. That feeling of not fitting in can be overwhelming, but she preservers with the help of friends.
Aftermath is scheduled for release on December 2, 2014 by Clean Teen Publishing. For more information, visit their website at www.CleanTeenPublishing.