Some things aren’t popular, but that rarely stops me from saying them. This is no exception. I’m tired of hearing about bullying. I’m tired of everyone being labeled a bully. If a kid makes fun of another kid, if a kid calls someone a name, if someone gets their feelings hurt, people are quick to use the word bullying. That’s not the case. Sometimes kids are just little assholes.
We use the word bullying so much that the meaning is becoming diluted. If everyone is a bully and if everyone has been a victim of bullying, it’s just commonplace and a part of life. Some things are just a part of life, but bullying shouldn’t be one of them.
Our big push on bullying is taking power away from our kids. We aren’t teaching them what to do if someone makes fun of them. Kids aren’t trying to handle situations on their own. Instead, they are thinking “bullying means go tell the teacher.” Actual bullying does, but they aren’t learning that there is a difference between a kid who’s a jerk and an actual bully.
As adults, we deal with assholes often. They will make snide comments. People can be rude and inconsiderate. We know how to deal with those types of people. It’s a valuable skill that we need to pass along to our children. They don’t need the teacher to intervene for every little thing. They need to learn skills like walking away or telling someone they don’t like what is being said. Kids need to learn how to handle their issues.
We all need to learn the difference between kids being jerks and bullying.
My 6-year-old son came home the other day and said someone was making fun of his bracelet. It was a bracelet he made in preschool, rediscovered, and decided he was going to wear it every day. It was made of pink, yellow and blue hearts. The kid in his classroom started making fun of him. He said it was a girl bracelet.
On one hand, the kid had a point. Honestly, it looks like a girl bracelet. So, my son tells me the story saying the kid was making fun of him and his bracelet. I didn’t run into the school to tell on the kid. I asked my son what he said to the kid. He said “nothing.” Why? Why didn’t he tell the kid he was being mean or he didn’t like what he was saying?
I told him if the kid did it again he should just tell him he didn’t like what was being said. My 9-year-old said “or you can tell your teacher or go to the office and tell them.” That seems like overkill. No. Try to handle the problem yourself first. If the kid continues to make fun of you, tell the teacher.
The other 6-year-old wasn’t being a bully just because he was making fun of my kid. That’s part of what kids do. Is it acceptable? No. It is something that will occasionally happen, and when it does I want my son to stand up for himself.
This is not to say that bullying does not actually occur. When it truly does occur, it needs to be dealt with.
There’s a 9-year-old boy, Grayson, in North Carolina who is actually being bullied for bringing his My Little Pony lunchbox to school. He’s being punched, pushed and being called horrible names. This is real bullying that happens in schools sometimes. When this takes place the teachers or lunchroom staff are supposed to step in and correct the problem.
If the administration had done what it was supposed to, it wouldn’t have made the news. Instead of the school standing up to the bullies and correcting the problem, the school counselor comes out to the car and tells Grayson’s mom her son “should hide his lunch box in his backpack and that when you carry things like that these things happen.”
If a boy carries something that is perceived to be “girly,” some little jerk might say something. Maybe he’d get teased a little and would have to decide if he wanted to keep carrying it or not. I would almost, almost expect it. I’m not agreeing with it, but it wouldn’t surprise me. It turning physical is too much. If the teasing was more than a comment or two, it goes from teasing to bullying and needs to swiftly be addressed.
So, one staff member is out of line. The school stated that “an initial step was taken to immediately address a situation that had created a disruption in the classroom. Buncombe County Schools takes bullying very seriously, and we will continue to take steps to resolve this issue.”
Oh, good. Except, it wasn’t good. The school took a first step of telling Grayson to bring a different lunchbox. Instead of disciplining the bullies at this school, the administration is telling the bullied kid to change what he is doing. What kind of a message is that sending to all of the kids? How any adult can think that is an acceptable solution is beyond me. The school administration is continuing the bullying that the kids started.
Why would the school administration take the easy way out and side with the bullies? This is not correcting the problem. Instead, this is telling all the kids if they are big enough jerks they will get their way.
The school asked him to leave the bag at home because it had become a distraction and was a “trigger for bullying.” There is always a “trigger for bullying.” When I was in school the fat kid was bullied. The “trigger” was the kid being fat. That kid can’t leave his fat at home, so what would this school do instead? The kid with red hair could dye her hair a different color. The girl with freckles could use cover-up.
Or, instead of allowing these little jerks to continue with their bullying, the school could correct the problem. They could insist kids behave. This school administration needs to take care of the bullying problem.
I feel for Grayson and his parents. In a time when bullying is what we hear about all the time, the school is standing with the bullies.
I’m impressed with Grayson for having the resolution to keep taking his my little pony lunchbox to school. Confidence like that in a child is rare. I hope my boys have that same kind of courageousness. I hope this situation doesn’t make him lose that.
Grayson’s parents have taught him well. He shouldn’t have to conform. He should be able to do what makes him happy. He isn’t hurting anyone else. The school should be supporting this family, not the family of the bullies.
There is a Facebook page Support for Grayson if anyone is interested in checking it out.