Friday, January 18, 2013

An Opinion About Bullying

Writers tell the truth. I see bullying a bit different than what I observe in the mainstream. Let me explain.

Stephen King gained his first publishing contract for his story, Carrie. A $200,000.00 deal, for a horror story about bullying. It made monsters out of bullies and those bullied. He wrote about this in his memoir about the writing life, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft. King's mind dug deep into the basement where his macabre muse lives. No doubt, the idea came from experience he witnessed from his own high school years. He knew of two female students who endured bully abuse and eventual psychological torture.

Horror scares me. I am not grabbed and held fast in its' claws. Though it's not my genre, I am a captivated truth seeker. What King said about communicating truth in writing is that it all comes down to is what you really say when you hit your thumb with a hammer. Do you say "Sugar!" or do you shout, "something else?!"

So what do I think about bullying? I think that whining and sobbing about how we sit alone, is a waste of time. I think that posting anti-bullying slogans and admonishing bullies is a stupid slap on the wrist. It's like gun control laws for law abiding citizens. Bullies aren't going to turn over a new leaf and be nice any more than criminals are not going to get a hold of assault weapons and shoot up Innocents.

Telling a bully to be nice is like telling a Nazi not to hate Jewish people.

Promoting anti-bullying in schools is preaching to the choir. The kids who are nice are going to be nice, because they are raised to be nice.

Kids who are bullies are not raised at all. They lack parenting. They simply lack. They bully because they can. It is their way of getting attention by getting a rise out of a kid who lacks self-confidence. Certain personalities get bullied because they long for approval, for whatever reason.

Then there is all this focus on self-esteem, instead of conscience and goal achievement.

A kid shouldn't receive a trophy just because he or she belongs to a team. One wins a trophy if she ran the fastest, or beat his opponent in strength for wrestling, or made the shot, because he spent his off-time out in the driveway, shooting hundreds of baskets.

If our kids are strong in themselves, they won't get picked on.

Bullies have radar. The bully knows who he or she can jab and jeer. They smell it.

I'm not saying that parents and teachers don't need to step in occasionally and advocate for victims of bullying. I've done it myself for my daughters. One suffered a wart during fifth grade. Of all places on her body, it was her nose. We had it shaved off. It grew back. We froze it. It grew back. We prayed. It stayed. Her peers were so mean, it makes me mad to think about it even now. Eventually she got sick with a raging fever which blessedly burned off all the warts. She endured suffering, for some greater purpose. At her eighth grade graduation ceremony, she was honored to sing for her class. She chose the song, "I Am Beautiful," by Christina Aguilera.

I was bullied. Yes, there were reasons, but I won't go into that.

Guess what? My Mom couldn't come to my rescue. I had to grow a back bone.

It wasn't easy. I had to make up my mind that I wasn't going to take it anymore.

So when a fifth grade girl hurled at me the100th insult and shoved me on the handball court in P.E., I shoved back. Her eyes whitened in surprise. She backed off.


I wore braces. Determined to close the huge gap in my overbite and my self-worth, I paid for them for a year with babysitting money. I was 12 years old. Riding a ten-speed to the orthodontist office, I decided that in high school, things would be different. I was going to be popular. No longer was anyone going to push me around. I worked for it. I'm sure through God's grace, but I worked for it nonetheless. I had to see myself the way God saw me. Not less or more than anyone else. There is nothing wrong with thinking enough of oneself, with the femininity of a strong girl or the masculinity of a gentleman to respect one's self and in turn our neighbors.

Bullying is about stealing someone's space. Being bullied is about not having enough regard for your own space...who God created you to be.

Further, as a high schooler, I decided that I would be a nice person.

So what is my point here?

There is no amount of goading the bully to shape up or enabling weakness in a victim that will cure the problem.

As parents we need to help our kids find work to do that gives them focus and goals. Encourage them to worship God instead of idolize self-pity. Offer a sport, activity, a job, a talent for her to work and perfect. Quit the whining. Stop the crying.

Scripture tells us that there is no sense in putting new wine into an old wineskin. This goes for the bully and the bullied.

How do you deal with a bully?

Figure out how to push back.

Do something with your life that adds to your self-worth. A bully can smell that too.

Don't give anyone a reason to push you around.

What did Eleanor Roosevelt say? "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

What do we owe the bully? Our prayers and guarded kindness.

What is healthy self-worth and where do our kids get it?

These are questions worth examining.


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