Saturday, November 13, 2010

Bullying Post : Part One

One of my earliest memories is a moment in kindergarten. It was a chubby little boy's birthday, and he was beyond excited. He proudly passed out the cupcakes his mom had sent in, grinning from ear to ear. Then, we started to sing to him, "Happy Birthday to you... Happy Birthday to you..." A few kids sang, "...You look like a pig, and you smell like one too". They started laughing, and the little boy's face crumpled and a tear made its way down his cheek. I remember feeling so bad for him. If I held onto that memory all these years, imagine how it affected him.

What got me thinking about the topic of bullying was finally reading Jodi Picoult's book, Nineteen Minutes. If you haven't read it, it is about Peter, who is horribly bullied throughout his entire time in school, who finally snaps and goes on a shooting spree, killing ten people and wounding many others.

The writing is amazing. She does an extraordinary job building the characters, and somehow manages to make you feel both sympathetic and outraged about Peter's actions. Since having my own child, every time I hear a story like this in the news, I think of the mother. How she must feel, the blame she must place on herself, the shock and humiliation she must go through. We like to think that someone who does something horrifying must have had a terrible childhood. Their parents must be to blame. The thought that loving, well meaning parents could create someone capable of murder is too frightening to think about, but this book forces you to do just that.

To be honest, even though I do feel Picoult is a talented writer, the subject matter put me in a state of depression. But, I am glad I read the book, because it forced me to think about the topic of bullies, and it made me want to start forming a plan for what to tell my soon to be four year old about the topic. Unfortunately, it is a subject that needs to be addressed at an early age. So, I am planning on writing several posts about this issue. For the next post, I am going to discuss ideas for what you can tell your child to do if they are bullied. For now, though, please leave me a comment about one of your childhood memories about being bullied. (Burgh Baby just posted one of hers recently here).


Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

I was bullied by a mean girl in 5th grade. We were in Girl Scouts together. I don't think I showed how much she bothered me, but I really hated her. In the middle of the year she was killed in a car accident. Talk about feeling guilty about wishing someone ill.

I think Jodi Piccoult is very talented, too.

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

In elementary school there was this girl who didn't like my friend because my friend was smart and read all the time. I think we were in third or fourth grade one time when she was picking on my friend and I told her to back off. She shoved me up against a wall and told me she'd do what she want. Later in the day she got up to "sharpen her pencil" and when she came back she dug her nails deep into my arm. I didn't say anything to anyone because I didn't want to cause more trouble.

She hated me from then on and one day in high school I was on the back seat of the bus when she told me to get out of her seat. Long story short, I was there first and told her she was a bitch.

She said "Oh..good little Christian girl can swear..." because everyone knew I went to church, etc.

I was mortified at my actions, but at being called out on how I should have acted.

Anyhoo...a few years later she and I had class together, got a long a little better and I apologized to her for what had happened so long ago. She couldn't believe I remembered that or wanted to apologize and she did her own apologizing. So...this situation worked out well. the other bully story I have? Not so well, but I've taken up enough of your comment section!

Kristi said...

I got picked on because of my last name when I was in elementary Sauer (sour) but I wasn't bluiied much. I can distinctly remember who the victims of bullying were though, those poor kids. They were all slightly "different" and were really picked on badly. I still sometimes see it working in the schools too

Brooke G. said...

I didn't read the book but have read many of hers.

That is so sad that you remember that from KINDERGARTEN. And ever more sad that he was bullied at such a young age. Sheesh, I didn't really think I needed to start worrying about all this just yet, but I guess I do! I just read your part two and agree that your reaction is the KEY to avoiding future incidents.