DP and I were on a long drive yesterday, and he read me an article about bullying. I can't quote the stats exactly from memory, but something like 60% of parents of kids ages 3-7 worry about their kids being bullied and 51% of parents of kids 7-12 say their kids have experienced at least one incident of being bullied - name-called, excluded/ignored, had mean things said about them..
I will be the first to admit that I have lived in fear of my kids being bullied, so I'm squarely in that 60%. But the article got me thinking....does one incident of name calling constitute bullying?
Thinking back to my own childhood, there were 5-6 girls all within a year of me in my immediate neighborhood. We were all generally good friends and played together all the time, but there was a constantly revolving circle of who were Best Friends of the moment. I've been part of the Best Friend clique, and I've been excluded from the Best Friend clique. It sucks to be the one (or one of several) left out. But it never lasted very long and I certainly didn't feel bullied. But based on that article, I would have been considered one of the 51%.
I've always thought of bullying as more sustained, targeted and harmful than the normal capriciousness of elementary school alliances. Has the whole issue of bullying become yet another media-inflated issue designed to instill fear in us? Do you worry about bullying? Do you talk to your kids specifically about bullying? Would you agree with the definitation above ("one instance")? Does it make a difference if the name calling is personal (e.g. "you're....fat, gay, poor" vs. standard schoolyard taunts like "you're a dummy")?
What does OS think?
I was bullied really, really badly in middle school. Going to school was generally torture.
I'm with you though on finding the tools to help them deal with it, not internalize it. If you could bottle it, I'd buy a big jug of that.
mcglory13 said:I was bullied really, really badly in middle school. Going to school was generally torture.
MM, if by consistent group you mean, almost everybody-- then yes. :) You're right, it definitely transcended and was different from navigating individual relationships and the ups and downs that come with friendships between kids.
SW, I had a pair of sneakers my parents got me I only wore once because a bully in my music class (oh hey, I still remember her name!) made a big deal targeting them and I didn't want to provide her with that again. I'm lucky that I had other shoes and that my parents didn't say anything about it. I also remember that music teacher telling me "not to be the victim" which is frankly terrible advice from an adult authority figure that didn't want to get involved. (Among other things, I'm fairly literal and so I was like, "but I AM the victim." heh).
Personally, I think bullying is sustained and either targeted or deliberate. Someone saying to my daughter, "You look like a boy" or "You're weird/stupid/etc." once is not bullying. It's unkind and inconsiderate, and it may hurt her feelings for a long time afterwards, but it's not bullying.
Someone who says something like that repeatedly, or who targets a specific person, or who says it with the deliberate intent to hurt, that is bullying. I think what I am trying to express is that bullying is a verb, and the definition lies with the perpetrator, less than with the victim. Some kids are really sensitive, others this stuff sort of bounces off of. To make a really reaching comparison, if I hit someone accidentally with my car, it's not murder, it's manslaughter (I think... I'm not a lawyer). I've totally hurt them, but not with intent.
Regrettably, bullies are no more evil than anyone else, for the most part. They're just more thoughtless.