Guest Blogger: Tracey Foster-Butler
Her last name is Flowers…but I didn’t think she was a delicate, sweet-smelling rose. She was more like a weed that squeezed the life out of me during my budding adolescence.
I can’t even recall how the bullying began. I remember always thinking about how to avoid her when catching the school bus, walking in hallways, and attending class. The threat of what she might say or do to me was always on my mind.
Her threats were mostly verbal at first, then the bullying built up to physical violence. However, before things led to hitting, I voiced my concerns to my mother. Her solution to my problem was to, “Go pick up a brick and…” I knew I would have to find a non-violent resolution for myself because hitting was not something I wanted to do. Meeting violence with violence was not an option for me.
Despite my best intentions, I was lured into a violent confrontation because a person’s natural instinct is to defend themselves and hit back. My bully hit me first, I did what came naturally, and – thankfully– our teacher swiftly interrupted the would-be melee. My bullying stopped after that incident. However, fighting a bully is not always the best solution.
Fighting may incite more violence. As parents, we may liken our child’s experience with bullying to our own, “back in the day,” and think that such conflicts are just rites of passage and can be resolved verbally or with fighting back. However, we live in a different day and time where bullies have more platforms for making their victims’ lives even more miserable such as social media and other mobile platforms.
Greater awareness has led to numerous resources for preventing bullying. While growth in this area is admirable, all children still need adults’ understanding and support.
The CDC Injury Center’s Understanding Bullying fact sheet lists risk factors that may contribute to youth becoming either bullying victims or perpetrators. Understanding these factors allows us to provide the help needed—for both—to overcome and prevent this form of violence. If you are unsure about how to handle a bullying situation, seek help from school staff and from online resources.
If bullying matters to our children, it should matter to us! It is important to talk with your children about the bullying they experience or witness. Let them know that bullying behaviors are unacceptable. If your child is the victim of bullying, let them know they are not alone. Just you being there for them can make all the difference.