Will bullying ever go away? Probably not. Will things get better for those being bullied? Yes, it will but it won’t happen on its own. We have to empower children on how to handle bullies and be there to help them when they need us.
As someone who has dealt with bullying when I was younger, I longed for someone to swoop in and save me like my own personal Superman. Reflecting back though, I know I would not be the same person I am today if someone would have stepped in like that. I am not really sure how I found the strength to handle my experiences but I know that I became stronger through that adversity. As a teacher, I would love to be that Superman that comes in and saves a child from a bully. However, I know that I can’t and I might as well wish for water to pour from a rock. I can’t be there with Karim when he leaves his house in the morning and walks to his bus stop. I can’t be there on the bus with Mikayla as she rides to school. I can’t keep my eyes and ears on the hundreds of students that are on our playground during recess breaks. I can’t be there every day when my students get back on their buses and walk back home alone. I can’t be there on the weekends when they are surrounded by the other children in their neighborhoods. It would appear that there is very little an educator can do which is why so many probably choose to ignore it or suck it up to a ‘kids will be kids” attitude. That attitude is so wrong because I know that if you locked up 100 children of varying ages, races, abilities, etc. etc., they would find some way to get along. Children who are not strongly influenced from outside forces seem to have an uncanny ability to blindly accept others for who they are. Kids who are bullies have most likely been influenced to either think they are better than others or else they feel a need to assert their superiority over someone else. Since we will never be able to raise our students in bubbles, we need to empower our students on how to handle those who are different from them and also how to handle a bully and the feelings that go along with being bullied.
One of the biggest issues with helping students who are being bullied is that many are afraid to ask for help and some don’t even realize that they need help. In the documentary, Bully, one boy was being physically abused on the bus everyday. The filmmaker finally stepped in and showed the footage to his parents and the principal. When asked by his mom why he never came forward to her, he answered that those were his friends. When she told him that a friend would never treat someone like that, he said, “If you say that they aren’t my friends, then do I have any friends?” This boy was so eager for interaction with other students and so unaware of his own danger that he dealt with this on a daily basis for who knows how long.
As an educator, I know that we need to empower our students to handle bullies and recognize bullies. We also need to educate the bullies and help them accept other students. Now, how are we going to accomplish this?
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