I Hate Bullying

October is National Bullying Prevention Month – and as a guy who was bullied mercilessly as a kid, you know I’ll have some thoughts to share.

Aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or emotionally.

Before we get started, can we all agree on this as the definition of bullying?

Good.

I hate bullying.

Bullying had a significant impact on me. It’s horrible. It’s demoralizing. It’s painful. It can literally ruin or end a person’s life.

Me at 9-years old

Me at 9-years old

In stating the obvious, I had a face only a mother could love when I was growing up. After looking at this picture, I wouldn’t fault you if you thought I had an after school job as a human can opener. Because of my appearance (and other things), I got bullied like crazy as a kid – and it came from all angles.

White kids bullied me by calling me a “Crowbar” because I was black and thin.

Black kids bullied me by saying I was “trying to be white” because I got good grades, wore preppy clothes, and didn’t get into trouble.

It wasn’t always racially motivated either. Sometimes I’d get my lunch money stolen, girls laughed behind my back due to how “ugly” I was, and kids would wait by my locker to empty my book bag all over the hallway floors.

Aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or emotionally.

I spent a lot of time in tears, I became depressed, I became angry, and it fueled me into becoming a lost soul prior to finally turning my life around.

Let me make something perfectly clear: My parents are awesome and they did an amazing job of raising my two brothers and me. Unfortunately, their best efforts were thwarted due to the lack of support from anyone else (school administrators, other parents, our community, etc.) and that kept the bullying from stopping.

Today I’m absolutely convinced that bullying can be stopped. It must be stopped. But it’s going to require an “All Hands On Deck” type of effort from all of us.

Before I lay out my plan of attack, let’s review the most common variations of bullying in our society.

 

Kids Bullying Other Kids: When you think of bullying, this is usually the first type that comes to mind. There’s no need to dive deeply into this since all of us have either been bullied, witnessed bullying, or were the bullies when we were younger.

Parents Bullying Kids: Many times it’s under the disguise of “tough-love,” but most people with functioning brain cells know better. These parents are the ones who call their kids stupid when they make simple mistakes, or they’ll call them fat if they ask for another serving of ice cream, or they’ll smack their kids across the face whenever they feel inclined to do so. To me, adults who bully children (especially their own flesh and blood) are the ultimate cowards and are despicable on every level.

Bullying at Work: One of my favorite bloggers wrote an epic post about workplace bullying here, and there’s no way I could explain it better than he does.

Husband bullying wife: He’s the man (I used that term loosely) who yells or becomes violent with his wife when the house isn’t cleaned, dinner isn’t ready, or if she asks him to help out with the kids. If she’s a SAHM, he’ll remind her that he’s the one who does the “real” work while she’s just a lazy, TV-watching freeloader. Editor’s Note: We all know that SAHMs are some of the hardest working people on the planet, but there are some neanderthals out there who believe otherwise. 

Wife bullying husband: Yes, this happens. She’s the woman who has completely unrealistic expectations for her husband, is verbally/emotionally abusive, withholds affection (notice I said “affection” not sex) from him for no explainable reason, and is extremely condescending whenever he complains about her behavior (i.e. “Quit being such a wuss” or “It’s not a big deal.” or “Man up and stop being so sensitive.”)

Cyber-bullying: We all know them. They could be kids harassing other kids through Facebook, or they could be grown-ass men and women trolling blogs and social media in an attempt to be mean and nasty towards people who post things that they disagree with. Luckily, I haven’t experienced this at all since I started blogging. Seriously, it’s never happened to me (“sarcasm font” is a wonderful thing). Unfortunately this epidemic is going to get a lot worse before it gets better because it’s so much easier to anonymously hide behind a keyboard and bully someone than it is to do it face to face.

Adults bullying kids that are not theirs: It could be teachers, sports coaches, caregivers, other parents, etc. For example, when I was 11 years old I went to a friend’s house to play with a bunch of other kids. The mother of my friend (it was a white family) couldn’t find her fancy watch. After a few minutes of searching, the lady singled me out and said, “I KNOW you stole my watch! I never should’ve let you into my house!” Of course I had no idea what she was talking about, but she cornered me and made me empty all of my pockets in front of the entire group “just to be sure.” A few moments later, her husband entered the room and told her that he found the watch in their car. I cried during the whole incident and the only apology I received was, “I know that black people like to steal things. When I couldn’t find my watch, you were the obvious choice. I’m sorry I accused you.”

In case there are some of you who think that bullying doesn’t have a long-lasting impact, please note that I still remember it as if it happened yesterday.

Aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or emotionally.

 

People usually fall into one of two categories when it comes to bullying:

1) They despise bullies, and will do whatever it takes to protect their children AND ensure bullying no longer exists.

2) They despise bullies, but believe bullying will never end, and their only responsibility is to teach their kids how to deal with it.

 

Just so you know, I’m firmly planted in Category #1.

As far as the folks in Category #2 are concerned, I’m not feeling that philosophy at all. To me, it’s just like saying, “What’s the point of taking a shower? I know that I’m going to get dirty again, so I’m just going to teach the people around me how to deal with my funky-ass body odor.” Really?? Who says that? Anyone? It’s the same thing. No meaningful, positive change was ever achieved through this line of thinking. Yes, it’s very important to teach our children how to deal with bullies, but it’s equally important to prevent bullying from happening in the first place. Here’s my two cents on how to do it.

#1 – Proactively talk to your kids about it: It seems like a no-brainer, but I’ve seen that a lot of parents don’t talk about bullying with their children until they come home crying with a black eye or someone embarrassed them through social media. Educating children about bullies is arguably just as important as educating your children about sex and drugs. Be proactive, not reactive.

#2 – Document everything: In a world where people are overly cynical, it’s always important to have proof to back up your claims. Did your boss threaten you at work? Keep every nasty email he’s ever sent to you. Did your husband slap you in the face because dinner wasn’t ready for him the second he came home? Take pictures of the bruising (after you’ve called the police and left the house for good, of course). Proof can be your best friend when trying to prevent bullying.

#3 – Don’t be ashamed: Being the victim of bullying can be embarrassing at times – especially if you’re an adult. You keep asking yourself, “Why am I not stronger?” or “Why did they choose to pick on me?” The bottom line is that there’s nothing wrong with you. Some people are just damaged individuals who get their jollies by seeing other people get upset – and that’s because hurt people hurt people. It’s OK to speak to folks in power (parents, teachers, Human Resources, police, etc.) whenever this happens. It doesn’t make you a snitch or a punk to report bullies. It makes you a hero because it can prevent it from happening to someone else.

#4 – Take bullying seriously: There are undoubtedly a few of you reading this who believe that bullying isn’t a big deal and are sickened by how soft and politically-correct our society has become. Yeah, well that’s a steaming, open-faced bullshit submarine sandwich if you ask me. Bullying IS a big deal. It causes depression, ulcers, headaches, anxiety, insomnia, fear of going to work/school, and (in some cases) suicide. When someone has the courage to approach you to say he/she is being bullied, take it seriously and take action. It could literally be the difference between life and death.

#5 – Coach the behavior and do it quickly: Follow me here – when you see bullies acting like a bullies, don’t call them bullies. Instead, talk about the behavior and how it impacted you. So many times we want to react by saying, “You’re a/an ______ (insert bad name here),” when we really should be saying, “I really don’t like it when you do ____________ (insert bully behavior here), and here’s why.” Logically speaking, whenever you call someone a bad name, they’ll instantly become offended and you’ll get nowhere. Coaching the behavior will allow the individual to have a moment of self-reflection (hopefully) to discover the errors in his/her ways. Don’t wait until tomorrow or next week , either – you need to bring this up immediately with the bully. Doing so will let him or her know that you’re serious about stopping this nonsense right now.

#6 – Get the community involved: You can’t do this alone, because help is needed to end bullying once and for all. Create a group in your neighborhood that exposes bullies as soon as they engage in that behavior, lobby schools and workplaces to institute harsher punishments for bullying, create anti-bullying support groups, and solicit community leaders to ensure anti-bullying efforts are at the top of their meeting agendas. No matter what you do, make sure that you do something to raise awareness.

#7 – Take your head out of your ass when it comes to your children: I’m sure a few of you have confronted a parent of a bully and he/she said, “Look, there is NO WAY little Johnny would do the things you’ve described. You’re a liar!” Memo to little Johnny’s parents: Do you really think that parents have nothing better to do with their time than to accuse of your kid of bullying? They’re doing it because they’re protecting their children. I know you probably think that you’re protecting your children as well, but you’re doing them a disservice if you’re turning a blind eye to their abusive behavior. Take this intel seriously and determine if your “little angel” is actually guilty of being a bully.

#8 – Never hit first, but always hit last: Yeah, I said it. There are times when you’re going to need to get your hands dirty and kick a bully’s ass if they’re dumb enough to put their hands on you. To be clear, this is a last resort – but since most bullies are cowards, they’ll turtle up when you make it clear that you’re willing and able to defend yourself when they become violent with you. I can promise you that I’ll enroll my girls in self-defense classes so they can defend themselves effectively in the event anyone is dumb enough to get violent with them.

 

Aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or emotionally.

I started the Daddy Doin’ Work blog because I’m a dad who loves being a dad. I created this post because I’m a dad who loves his daughters and fears for their future when it comes to bullies. Now that my readership is growing, I challenge all of you to take action in your communities to stop bullying.

Somewhere there’s a child thinking about committing suicide so she won’t have to deal with the mean girls who posted horrible comments about her on Facebook. Somewhere there’s a SAHM who fears getting yelled at by her caveman husband if the house isn’t perfectly clean by the time he gets home. Somewhere there’s an employee driving slowly in his car to work because he dreads having to see his abusive boss. Somewhere there’s a parent raising a son with Down Syndrome whose heart breaks whenever bullies call him a “retard.”

This person could be your kid, it could be your friend, or it could be you. I was the victim of bullying and I don’t want it to happen to you or your loved ones.

This shit has to stop, and I know it can be stopped, but I need your help.

Aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or emotionally…and it will no longer be tolerated.

 

I’m up for the challenge to change this definition forever.

Are you?

If so, then share it on your favorite social networks by using the buttons above! C'mon, don't be shy.  You can also subscribe to Daddy Doin' Work via RSS or email to be notified of new rants, revelations, and random thoughts.     

Comments

  1. Fran says

    You pushed all the right buttons in your blog post. I’ve asked our followers to share with their followers. Thank you.

  2. says

    As the mom to a son with Aspergers, we’ve been struggling with mean kids/bullying for a couple of years now. It certainly gets worse as they get older. One of the reasons I started my blog was to give my son a voice and teach him how to advocate for himself (Here’s an example of a post written mostly by him: http://www.momintwocultures.com/2013/06/awards-day.html ).

    Thanks for talking to your readers about this. It’s important to help grown-ups know how to be proactive, ESPECIALLY when a kid is doing all he/she can to stand up for him/herself.
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  3. Lalena says

    Well said. I am going to talk with my son about this, tonight. We usually only talk about bullying when it happens, but it is such a good idea to be proactive. Thanks.

  4. Jamie says

    What I love most about this is your proactive attitude. I was bullied as a child for how I looked and as you did we found that a lack of support from the wider community prevented this being fixed. After moving I was then bullied as a teenager for incest even though I was the victim of abuse. The sad reality is that for me I was surrounded by a lot of people who had the attitude that bullying can never go away which for me was harder and more painful to deal with than the actual bullying. I congratulate people using their public platform to encourge the complete eradication of bullying.

  5. says

    My son is two (3 in less than a month) and I am already trying to instil in him the character I know he’ll need in a world of bullies. I don’t want him to be one and I don’t want him to become broken by bullies’ mean words/actions either. I was so proud of him the other day when a child shoved him and he stood up, looked that child in the eye and said, “Ow. That hurt.”
    He was firm and he was strong and he didn’t shove the other child back. Probably my most proud moment, actually. I hope he continues to be that guy forever.
    KezUnprepared recently posted..Short mama problems.My Profile

  6. JW says

    We have dealt with this since we left the house. I have a bright and shiny wee one. There is no hiding this kid. Their light is out for everyone to see. We are not typical either.

    It hurts as a parent to see your wee one teased, made fun of, and stomped on. Please be Pro-Active, do not think that the school will do something if you are not willing to go in and talk to them, and follow up , and follow up, and than follow up again. You must not think you are a pest or a bother. You must stand up for your child and help those other wee ones learn , while they are young enough to change, that their behavior is wrong.

    Thank you for your post.

  7. dislike bullies says

    I can’t believe I’m in my 30’s and I am being harassed in the work place by another women. She has been trying to intimidate me ever since I filed a report on her for screaming at me at the workplace in front of clients and co workers. Today she stared at me for a minute while eating standing by her cubicle. I first waved to see if she was just staring in to space but she kept staring asked her “Can I help you”? she then looked away slowly…I already filed a complaint on first incident and second incident. This time I feel like a nag if I complain about her staring at me but I feel really unsafe working here. I really don’t know what to do. I have sent my resume to other jobs but I haven’t had any luck on a new job and if I quit am I eligible for unemployment??? Please help me.

  8. Janis says

    My six year old son is dealing with these kinds of problems at school. Last year there was an incident after school where another parent berated my child and their teacher because his son was crying. The school failed to tell me about it until the next day when I picked my son up and the teacher wanted to know if my son told me about it. I emailed and ended up having a conversation with the principal who pretty much told me that they dropped the ball and my son wasn’t really berated in public, I had other parents come up to me and tell me differently. My son had kids steal his shoes and be hit with it. It’s been a struggle getting heard and I’m at the point of switching schools and when I mentioned this they told me I was overreacting and if my son just ignored them then they would stop. I want bullying to stop no kid should come home and be like I hate school and I’m stupid.

  9. Serina says

    “Black kids bullied me by saying I was “trying to be white” because I got good grades, wore preppy clothes, and didn’t get into trouble.”

    God that’s sad.

  10. says

    Thanks for talking about bullying. It’s really important to help parents to know how to be proactive about this freighting situation. I agree that bullying is bad for your children’s health and we must take action to stop it. It has been found through research that victims of childhood bullying had a higher risk of poor health, poverty and problems with social relationships in adulthood.
    John Parker recently posted..How You Can Protect Your Child From Bullying Using Online LearningMy Profile

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