Attack of the Bully Boys
Attack of the Bully Boys
Until we moved to Alabama, (the first time, not this time) my then eight year old son was an outgoing, happy and very popular kid. It would take him all of two seconds to make a new friend of any age. Older kids went out of their way to talk to Billy. Little kids adored him and every five year old girl was going to “marry” him.
That was until third grade.
Billy was looking forward to starting his new “Christian” school and ready to make some new friends. It had been a very difficult year… what with the divorce, the move to Montana and then only two months later a move to Alabama.
The first few days went very well and he came home with stories of new friends and a new interest in Pokemon cards. A trip to Walmart and several packs of the much desired Pokemons left Billy even more eager to return to school. Unfortunately, the next day everything changed.
My happy little boy became depressed and was fast becoming an introvert. When I asked about school, he said the other kids didn’t like him and no one would talk to him. I told him to give it time. He never said a mean thing about the other kids and even started praying for them.
I didn’t think too much about it, after all he was in a “Good Christian” school and there was plenty of supervision. However, when we had our first Parent/Teacher Conference I was in for a rude awakening. Billy was failing reading. His teacher said he needed help. I was shocked, after all Billy had been reading the Bible to me since he was five and had tested out at an 11th grade reading level at the end of 2nd grade.
After a lengthy conversation with the Teacher and Billy, I finally learned exactly what was going on.. It seems there were three boys (all kids of the Pastors and Church/School staff) that had told every kid in the class not to be Billy’s friend or else. They picked on him, spit on his papers, mocked him whenever he was called upon to read and made his school life miserable. The Teacher was only making it worse by constantly asking Billy to be in charge of the class whenever she left the room.
Needless to say, I requested some immediate changes, beginning with not putting Billy in the position of having to be a “Tattle Tale” or a “Liar”. This teacher knew Billy would not lie when asked a direct question and was taking advantage of him. When I asked what consequences the bullies suffered for their rude behavior, it became apparent that the answer was …none.
I wanted to talk to the kids parents or demand they be punished, but my son’s answer shocked me back to reality. He said “Jesus would want us to pray for them and be extra nice to them”. So that’s what he did.
The bullies never changed. They continued to attempt to allianate Billy from the other kids, but slowly the rest of the class, beginning with the popular girls, started to make friends with Billy and after awhile it was the bullies who became isolated.
The experience did change Billy in a number of ways. He is now much more cautious about making friends and he has also had to learn how to control his emotions. He has told me several times that he would rather cry then be angry. If he gets angry, he might hurt some one and that would be worst then if they hurt him. Billy has always been a big strong kid, and I’m sure had he decided to punch the bully, he would have done quite a bit of damage, but I think the damage to Billy’s heart would have been worse.
So what is the answer to dealing with bullies? How do you protect your child?
My advice as a parent is to first demand that the school set policies in place to protect kids from bullying and second talk to your child and be aware of the effects of bullying. Each child is different and will have a different way of handling the situation. Some may need to stand up to the bully, others will need to learn how to walk away.