Need to Support Parents Whose Kids ARE the Bully Too...
(Dublin, OH, USA)
I am a mom who has been affected by both school-friend bullying and cyber-bullying, and both bully and bullied are members of my family. In one case, my 17 year-old daughter was arrested at school and put on legal probation for a year. What did she do? Maybe something that many of us have done... An ex-friend sent a risque cellphone pic of herself to another person. They forwarded to my daughter, who somewhat absentmindedly sent it to someone else. My daughter had some long-brewing bones to pic with the pictured girl and figured it was her right to pass it on - she deserved it. And this other girl had been a problematic child for years. What happened to my daughter, who up until recently has maintained the attitude that what she did was "no big deal, and everyone does it?" The girl's family (once good friends of our family) pressed charges and the police gladly came for my kid, at the school for all 800 students and faculty to see. She had never been in trouble before. She was slapped with some eye-opening, precedence-setting community service, early curfew, and a laundry list of conditions she had to meet, or it's to the juvie pokey for her! Mom and Dad make sure she knows we are not getting her out of this one easily if she messes up. Picture popular, blond-haired, blue-eyed, gorgeous, college-bound, nice girl from a decent family washing stalls and picking up trash at the local zoo for 2 weekends. Picture same kid washing windows in the lobby of the community rec center in her street clothes for 3 days while many she knew walked by. Not fun. So, needless to say, mom thinks she finally "gets it" and is finally listening to the truth about her actions and the possible implications of her "crime." Mom is also providing her with a lot of articles and data about how this type of seemingly innocent action can lead to horrific things. Just look around, talk to any kid, watch the news, read Time magazine, watch Dr. Phil... Wonderfully, her high school has jumped on the cause and is preaching the message hard this school year. She's lucky that probation is all she got, and relations have been smoothed over. And I am lucky that I have a very great, bright kid who just "wasn't thinking" then, but surely will now. She made a mistake. Interestingly, she was bullied by "alpha" girls all through elem school and middle school, and it broke her heart and actually made her physically ill. Made me ill too. Hmmm. Obviously, she had become desensitized by the age of 17, as are many of our children. Even the "good" ones! Let's not forget how both sides of the bully fence incur suffering.
My next story is shorter, but not sweet - the other side of the fence. My younger sister's son, same age as my son, and my son's best cousin and friend on the planet with whom he had shared 15 awesome years, hanged himself last June two days before school broke for summer. He would have been a freshman and had planned to continue to excel at many sports and attend college. This kid was talented, physically strong, and good-looking, with many, many friends. Unfortunately, he had anger and depression issues, and his girlfriend of two years had just broken up with him. He left us with the message that he was simply too tired to go on. He might have been bullied, but I do not believe that is why he took his precious life. However, the unbelievable occurred in his death. A few sadly misguided kids posted unthinkable messages on popular social website blogs over the summer defaming his character and saying things I cannot repeat. Even with their names attached! What's the world coming to? A boy bullied in death. OMG! Luckily, he had so many friend fans that the good things said and done in his name made up for it, but still caused heartbreak for all. I hereby pledge to keep finding my voice against bullying, and get intimately involved with this cause - because I already AM!!! Aren't we all in some way?