"I know you are, but what am I?"
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me!"
I remember these phrases fondly from my childhood. I remember really trying to internalize them. Most of the time, I really wasn't bothered by what other people said about me. That's not true for every kid or every situation, though. Sometimes the things people say do hurt us. Maybe you're having a bad day. Maybe it's the 379th time someone has said it to you. Maybe the reasons don't really matter, though. In the end it's just not nice to say unkind things to people. And it's not okay to treat people unkindly in other ways.
Bullying has been receiving lots of news coverage lately. Is it because the phenomenon is on the rise? Is it because people are paying more attention? Again, it doesn't really matter, because at the heart of it it just isn't okay to treat people unkindly!
I've written before about the bullying my daughter has endured in school. In honor of #1000Speak's theme of Rising above Bullying, I wanted to interview Frances on her experiences. When it comes to rising above bullying, she is my hero!
How have you been bullied before? Name calling and when people physically touch me, like when people punch me.
How does bullying make you feel? I do NOT like it. It doesn't feel very good. It makes me feel sad. Because people don't like you.
Why do you think kids bully other kids? Because of things going on at home? Like when people have something hard going on in their life. Like a divorce happened or something. Something hard for them.
What has helped you rise about the situation? I be myself. I just hang out with my friends and pretend that I'm not being bullied. It still happens every now and then, but it's less.
What would you do if you saw another kid being bullied? I would go help. One thing would be to say, "Come on, you wanna go play?" and get them away from the bully. Or just go stand by them. You can go get a teacher. Just do something to get the bully to stop.
What would you say to another kid who has been bullied before? Just be yourself. Don't worry about being bullied. Hang out with your friends and try and stay away from the bully.
What should teachers do to prevent bullying? They should have a way to quickly tell the teacher so that it doesn't happen. They can watch the kids more often. We have signs at Second Home that say "We don't bully!" "No bullying!" I made a sign that has things you shouldn't say, circled with a line through it.
What should parents do if their child has been bullied? Help them think of ideas to say to the bully to get them to stop.
Frances has come a long way this year. She says she still gets teased from time to time, but now she has the resources and confidence to rise above it. She's been very helpful to the teachers at her after-school program in terms of helping to identify and prevent bullying. I am very proud of the way she has handled things and risen above the bullying.