Bullying has been around for as long as I can remember… and long before that. It has seemingly been on the rise in recent years, but it may be that our tolerance for bullies is waning, or we are better defining what bullying is. So, what is bullying? Dan Olweus gives us a commonly accepted definition for bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do:
A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself.
I’m very excited to have the opportunity to talk with a mother and daughter on the topic of bullying and to bring you a real world example of how one girl successfully dealt with a bully. Thank you Gabbie (almost 12) and Brooke (Gabbie’s mom) for your willingness to share your experience, not only with me, but with the world.
Gabbie, I understand you had an experience where you were bullied by one of the boys at school. Tell me how it happened.
He threw a whiteboard eraser at my head and told me and all of my friends that i was stupid and no one liked me. He would come up to me in carpool and tell me that people were asking about me and I would go over and ask what they wanted he would laugh and they would laugh at me for coming up to them. he was always bothering me in band class, taking my things, erasing my work on the white board that the teacher asked me to write.
Brooke, how did you feel when Gabbie told you about the bullying?
Gabbie was very vocal about what was happening with this boy at school. She shared with me in carpool one day that she was being bothered, explained the circumstances and I made a phone call to the school before exiting the parking lot, I wanted them to be aware of a possible issue so they could begin a monitoring process. At first I was a bit consumed with anger but it was quickly replaced with getting Gabbie through this situation in a positive way. I felt like I could inform the school and teach Gabbie strategies to deal with her situation without feeling fear or shame.
Gabbie, when you reported it to the school, how did they respond? Did they take care of the situation immediately or did you have to convince them that there was a problem?
I had to convince them there was a problem, they wanted to keep an eye on him. They only watched him for three days and then called his parents to make them aware of it. They were very nice to me and listened to what I said.
Brooke, what is your opinion of how the school handled the situation?
In the beginning when they met with Gabbie early the next morning, the school admin decided that “teasing” was in fact the label for what was going on. Gabbie did not feel as though “teasing” was the appropriate stereotype and listed why she felt that way, which included a brief quote from the Wake County School Boards Policies and Procedures book, listing examples of bullying. Wound up being a learning experience for the school, my husband and I and Gabbie. In the end, I felt as though we worked together as a team with not one person or role taking part more than another.
Gabbie, how do you feel about how your parents handled things when you told them about the bully?
My mom and dad took care of it but let me talk to the school people. They called the school and listened to me, they helped me figure out what I wanted to say.
Brooke, how do you feel about how Gabbie dealt with the bully?
Exceptionally well. I recognize what an awful situation this could of risen into and am so proud along with my husband and the school of how she handled it and even more important, herself.
Brooke, any words of advice for other parents out there on how to protect your kids, but at the same time allow them work it out?
Education begins at home, not just the academics but social interactions as well. Teach your children to be kind and give them a voice, without holding their hand to respect themselves and others, to approach challenges with the attitude that there IS a solution, to always talk to their parents, guardians and other important figures in their schools to help guide them through questionable situations. Someone will always be there to listen and support them.
Thank you both so much for sharing your experience with me. And if anyone else would like to share an experience with me, please contact me at lkgardner-griffie [ at] griffieworld (dot ) com or leave a comment below. And for those interested in good sites on dealing with bullies, please check out the links on the Resources page.