Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Off Topic - but worth a read - Bullies & Who's To Blame

The other day I took my son’s to football practice. It was there that my path crossed with a girl that was less than nice when we were in school. Instantly my mind drifted back some 25 years to the torment and pain she inflicted not only on me, but on my brother as well.

I’ve pondered in the time since; the results bullies have on other children. Here I am 25 years later, a totally different person that I was back then. Yet in her presence I was that young girl all over. My knees were weak, my heart raced and my stomach began to turn. How could this have such a result so many years later? This girl never made an attempt to say hello to me or even offer a pleasant smile of course I didn’t either, but with every ounce of my being I couldn’t.

Later that evening, I discussed this with my husband. He of course thinks I am being ridiculous, however, he does not recall such torments in school, because he was one of the popular ones.

As I reflect back on the pains my own schoolyard bullies caused me and my brothers caused him, I begin to sympathize with all those children that are undergoing the torments throughout their own school years. My mind drifts to such extreme actions as those taken by the children in Columbine, Paducah Kentucky and the various others we hear from time to time on the evening news. My heart rips for both sides, yet I have a deep understanding of the pain that must have been behind the eyes of the shooters.

Who is really to blame? Certainly in a society where we wish to blame everyone else but ourselves, it’s easy to blame the shooter. Take a closer look at the situations before you cast your judgments. Were those children bullied relentlessly? Did they fear or dread attending school every single day just as I did years ago? Personally I believe the blame can be spread among all those involved.

Parents must take a stand with their children. It is very easy to brush off bully activity on the “that’s just children being children” theory, but that’s not just children being children. There is no excuse for bad behavior that leads to the emotional destruction of other children. By brushing off such behavior in your own children, permitting them to rip at the emotions of another child, making other children feel subhuman, inadequate and disliked is in fact placing you at fault.

My brother Tony died because of his bully. Tony had lived his short life with a kidney disease. He was a kind and gentle spirit that most every adult enjoyed being around, but children chose to torment. Tony was overweight and quiet making him easy prey. He was not confrontational and would endure such torments as having his homework torn up day after day, his pencils broken, name-calling and more.

Two days before Tony had a cerebral hemorrhage, his own bully, three years older than he was decided to show off on the bus, turned his class ring upside down and hit Tony in the head. I remember seeing the tears roll silently down Tony’s cheeks while he didn’t make a sound. Two days later, Tony woke up with a severe headache and while kneeling at our couch my mother saw him look up, reach for the ceiling and said “Jesus hold my hand.” Tony slipped into a coma from which he would not return.

My father had called this boys parents several times. Each time his father would simply respond with “that’s just kids!” To this day, my father lives with the belief that if he had only done more, perhaps Tony would still be alive today and would be celebrating his 40th birthday this year.

Bullying IS a Big Deal! It’s time to make it stop! Here is a great site on the topic of Bullies and how to deal with them.

Of course I should feel sorry for my one bully, she has battled breast cancer and endured a great deal of heartache, but even as much as I try to feel sympathy, I can't. You see she bullied Tony too! And that I cannot forgive.