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Thursday, February 2, 2012

Bullying Woes

I have never understood the rationale for bullying. How could it possibly make another person feel good or empowered to know they hurt someone else? I personally loathe the concept of hurting anyone. Even the times in my life when it was unavoidable, I hated knowing that I caused someone to feel pain.

 This week my son relayed to me an incident at school. Apparently a little girl was bullied on the bus. An older child called her names. As he described the scene to me, I was heartbroken. I could just picture the little girl with her face turned toward the window and tears streaming from her eyes. I could go back to those places in my life and remember exactly how it felt—the heartache, the shame, the betrayal, and the yearning for it to stop.

I want to do something to help these kids! I hate that some of them deal with this every single day of their lives. I hate knowing that there are children crying themselves to sleep every night. I hate knowing that for a few of them, the situation turned tragic and they took their own life. Have you ever glimpsed into a coffin and saw an angelic face lifeless—void of the precious childlike smile and life we so often admire?

On the other hand, usually the children who bully others are victims of bullying and teasing themselves. I believe the effects have been so detrimental to them that they in turn lash out with the same behavior. As long as they are the ones bullying, then they won’t be bullied.

We need to band together and make a difference. We need to understand that we have so much more power than we realize. We need to stop looking the other way and start addressing the issues.

Anyone around children, for any length of time, has a great advantage. We can teach children to treat others as they themselves want to be treated. Anyone who resorts to scare tactics, threats or name calling to make themselves feel better definitely needs help. They need kindness in their lives. They need love. They need friends. Most of all, they need God. And more than likely, they need counseling of some type to deal with the issues which cause them to act that way. Sometimes bullying is a cry for help.

Just the other day, a child bullied me. I was teased for my hands. I was so shocked by his behavior that I faltered. I didn’t do anything or say anything to him. I was in my safe haven when it happened and was totally knocked down. And then it occurred to me, perhaps God brought him to me for a reason. Maybe I am the one to teach him about differences and how to treat others. What if he is bullied at school? How else would a child learn the art of bullying?

And so I continue my quest. I go to schools and read them my book, Zippy and the Stripes of Courage. I show them through Zippy how it feels to be teased and how to treat others. I answer their questions and encourage them to be good to others. Sometimes God blesses me to touch a child in some way and even allows me to see it. Sometimes He blesses me to take them in my heart and pray for them. And sometimes, I feel defeated like I couldn’t reach them at all. Nevertheless, I keep trying.

I know some can’t understand my desire to do school visits, especially free of charge, or the sacrifices I make to do them. Since I work fulltime, I have to adjust my schedule to fit everything in. On the days when I do school visits, I get up anywhere between 4:30-5:30 a.m. and start working. Then, I usually have to put in a few hours in the evening as well. It is a long day, but so very worth it.

When I see the smiles on the children’s faces and hear them declare their love for Zippy, I know it impacted their life in some way. Every visit is a gift from God and I’m so thankful for the opportunities. Before I was published, I would often pray and ask for these very moments.

Sometimes we have to be willing to suffer a little to help someone else. Sometimes we have to be willing to do whatever it takes. I believe the only way we can truly make a difference is when we give our whole heart. I don’t do it for compensation or even to sell books. I do it because there was once a little girl who would go to the bathroom and pray. She would beg God to help her—to make the bullying stop and to give her the strength to endure the pain. And many years later, she’s still praying and trusting God to help her help others.

NOTICE: I’m not a counselor nor do I have a PhD. Anything I say on this blog is strictly my feelings and/or opinions.


ywilbur said...

One thing with my son, Kharan, who is missing limbs, is that he is very verbally aggressive when it comes to teasing. He can sound like a drill sargeant is the best decription I have. He's stood up to bullies of other kids and those who TRY for a second to bully him but he often comes off is called by teachers and other onlookers 'very angry and aggressive!'. It's so frustrating to me...they even have a term for it ...the aggressive victim. Umm...1. he is rarely the victim and 2. he is in control in that he is not more aggressive than is needed. It's hard because you want to encourage his strength but honestly everytime he has stood up to bully the bully stops but KHARAN is labelled an aggressive personality too. He doesn't do it randomly to other kids...grrr...Imagine though if a cadet in the Marines tried to bully the drill sergeant though...can you picture the tone, face, body stance, words (minus the swearing)..that is Kharan when confronted with BULLYING! Yeah, Kharan. Now teasing, staring, pointing at limb he often tries to hide limbs or will just want to leave if the staring continues after him saying "the Lord made me this way" a few times...he might also try 'you're being rude and hurting my feelings' but his response is not the drill sergeant bullying response.

Haha...I need to calm down. Can you tell I got a 'wow, he responds so aggressively, he must be a handful, I don't know what I'd do if my child had so much anger' from a bystander parent (2 days ago)...Deep breath...I'm off to work now.


Underneath the Scars said...

Hi Yetta!

I can't imagine how hard that must be. No one truly understands until they have been faced with the issues. I can’t help but smile as I read this though. I just want to hug him. I bet the bullies think twice before they bully or tease him. And maybe he is making his own differences by not allowing it to happen and showing other kids they can stand up to it, too. Still, he has to deal with it though. And I understand the anger. There are days when I hate dealing with it. For example: I was having lunch with my kids at school and the other kids would not leave us alone and let us eat for staring, pointing, and asking questions. That day I could have certainly yelled.

Hugs! :)

Author shares message through Zippy the zebra