Bullying Incident on the Sidewalk
--by laceyjane, posted Feb 5, 2008
Come Wednesday, though, it was parent-teacher night and there's now way I was going to miss it. So off I drive in my wobbly old van, and when I am almost at the school I see a group of kids gathered on the sidewalk.
I slowed down, thinking my son may be with them and I could offer him a ride home with me, when I noticed that what I thought was a group of friends was actually a mob of all size children, kicking and hitting one boy. He was crouched down with his hands over his head, trying to block their blows with his backpack.
I slammed on my breaks so suddenly the traffic behind me almost hit my rear end. I rolled down my window and asked what was going on. An older child told me they were just playing. I told them I was going to have to call the police and they all scattered.
The boy stood up, and started walking home. I called after him, wanting to help him, but he seemed ashamed, and said he didn't want help. So sad.
I went on to the school, concerned but feeling powerless. I went to the social worker's office, and from my description and the school student database, we were able to figure out who the boy was. It seems this student had been getting picked on a lot lately. The social worker said she would call his parents, and help him if she could.
I went on my way, but I couldn't stop thinking about the boy. Why was he ashamed, and the other children involved with the incident not? After getting home, I discussed the issue with my kids, and found that usually that's the way it is. The person being mean is thought of as cool, or funny, or brave, and the person being hurt is thought of as a loser, or worse. I spent many moments since with my children explaining what a victim is, and reinforcing their personal space and what their rights in that space are.
We are coming up with a game plan this weekend, and have decided that we need to tell our friends at school it's okay to get picked on, it's out of your control, and the person who bullies is the one who should be ashamed. We've even going to make a contest of trying to spread our message: whichever of my kids tells the most friends, and gets them to sign a kindness petition, will get a prize. I hope that we will be able to change even one child's point of view!