upset boy against a wallIt’s been happening all year.

A classmate of my son has been picking on him, slapping him, little things that apparently teachers don’t notice in class and other kids don’t feel the need to stop. And when my son tells her to stop or hits back, it does no good. She laughs in his face or he gets ridiculed for hitting a girl.

Hitting back.

Last night, my son was away with schoolmates to celebrate some friends, and the girl was at it again. He texted me at night saying that she threw sticks and rocks at him and punched him in the stomach.

Enough. I have had enough. Not only of this situation, but of all bullying.

I texted the parents in charge and they jumped right on it, talking to the girl and making sure my kid was OK. The girl apologized and begged off. Left him alone for the rest of the party.

This morning, I called her parents. I have never called a parent before to point the finger at their kid, so I was a bit shaky on the phone. But the girl’s dad was an angel. He apologized for me having to even make the call, said he was mortified, and that his daughter would get a talking-to when she came home.

I am so sick of bullying. This has been a theme of all of our lives from the earliest days, and it is just so unnecessary.

stopbullying.istockMy year was fifth-grade, when I had all of two friends and everyone else poked fun at me for wearing the wrong clothes or having big hair. And every issue I’ve had in my life has stemmed from feelings of inadequacy in childhood.

At this point, I’ve conquered the demonic voices inside and put them in their place, but it took years to get there.

I’m glad to see that most schools today won’t tolerate bullying, but I have to acknowledge that in many cases, the adults in charge just don’t see what’s going on. Why was this girl allowed to torment my son and physically assault him in the classroom? Where were the teachers?

Why doesn’t right win out over wrong?

There’s not only the bully; there’s also all of the other complacent kids around that bully who don’t feel the need or the courage to stand up and say, “You must stop. What you’re doing is wrong.”

Either they’re too afraid of retribution or they don’t see it as wrong. And that means that our society is raising another generation of muddled-up kids who just don’t know how to make the world a better place.

At the root of bullying lies an innate sense of inadequacy. The bully bullies because he or she feels powerless, like they don’t matter. So they turn their inward hurt feelings outward and direct them onto someone else. A victim. A senseless, undeserving attack to mitigate the sadness they feel inside.

You know bullies like this. We all do. And unfortunately, they don’t disappear when childhood ends.

There are bullies in the workplace, bullies in the home, bullies on the PTA, bullies at the neighborhood council. Bullies are everywhere because this feeling of not being good enough, driven by anxiety that we’re not loved or even liked, continues throughout our lives.

Unless we put a stop to it.

I remember being bullied and even bullying myself. And I don’t think I was a bad kid. I am ashamed of the times I was mean to other kids in my younger years, and I try my damnedest to instill in my children this sense of right and wrong. There have been times that one of my kids has laughed about another person and bordered on poking fun, and you can bet I put them in their place.

That’s the thing. I don’t believe bullies are inherently bad people.

ballerina.istockWe all begin life in goodness, with open hearts, seeing only the best. We learn to hate. We learn to be mean. We learn it because it is done to us.

It’s a vicious cycle that keeps on churning out new scenarios of a very old story.

Why do we put up with this? Why do we allow a society to keep evolving with a pattern of ganging up on those unsuspecting or less adept among us?

Here’s what I propose: start with yourself. See the good in you and work on your own flaws. Turn the gaze inward.

Eventually, when you turn the gaze back out, look for the good in every soul you pass. Ignore the bad until you just don’t see it anymore. So they dress differently. So they walk funny. So they have a lisp.

Where is your heart? See the good. See only the good. Until that’s all you truly see. Then we will live in a world of love, not defined by hate and having to protect the vulnerable because there is nowhere else for them to go.

My children are amazing individuals. So are yours. They have their foibles, yes, but deep down, who they are at the core is wonderful.

That should never be an object of ridicule. We should not be afraid to be ourselves for fear of teasing. We get one chance at this life. It should be filled with the joy and pleasure of being unique and achieving the purpose we were brought here to achieve.

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