Teen Bullying – Some Thoughts, Ideas And Solutions

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Many agree that teen girl bullying is at an all time high and that awareness and education about bullying needs to be increased. Increasing the awareness and the resources available at the school level is what happened when Sandra in Singapore decided that despite her daughter’s pleas, it was time to reveal the identities of the three classmates who were bullying her daughter. (If you haven’t already, read Sandra’s teen bullying story here.)

It’s interesting that bullying seems to be commonplace even in Singapore, even in a country where there’s a high level of homogeneity in the culture and where you can get a ticket for things like throwing gum on the sidewalk. (At least that’s the impression we have here in the U.S.)

I do not recall much bullying when I was growing up in Buffalo, New York in the seventies. In the small, Catholic grade school I attended through the age of 14 there were cliques and there was teasing but not the kind of bullying Sandra’s daughter experienced.

I do recall one event when I was about 12 years old. I was walking home from school and a neighbor girl about two years older who lived a few houses down (who I didn’t associate with much; she had attended another school) was walking toward me with an air of aggression and hostility. She stopped right in front of me; it was just me and her and she was getting ready to hit me but right before she did I grabbed her wrists so that she couldn’t move them. No, I didn’t have any martial arts training or anything like that, it was just a simple reaction. I looked her in the eye while holding onto her wrists and after a few seconds her wrists went limp and the aggression seemed to melt from her. She smiled and let me continue on home. (And actually, she even invited me to come over to her house.)

I was speaking with a retired San Francisco domestic abuse counselor about Sandra’s daughter’s experience and he recalled being beaten up by two boys when he rode his bike into the country. He was a city boy, his bike happened to be shiny and new and two country boys jumped him and beat him up. He cried all the way home.

And when I was talking to him I asked the question out loud, why do these bullies always pick on those smaller and weaker than they are? Why not direct that energy toward a good cause, something really worth their while, something worth fighting for, something exciting and extraordinary?

There are more kids these days who are not easily intimidated and who stand up for themselves, kids who can make a huge difference in society if they channeled that energy toward their higher purpose, for example. (I mean, I have two of my own, for sure, and am helping them direct that energy toward fulfilling a bigger purpose.) Seriously, those who are not easily intimidated need to channel that energy and that drive toward something that really matters. But how can they, when they don’t have a clue about who they are? When they don’t have a clue that they have a real gift and a HUGE purpose because this idea isn’t taught, it’s not even a seed of a thought in their brains.

I believe that we do need to increase awareness about bullying. But that awareness needs to include guiding the “bully” to realize that he or she has a gift and that he or she can use that gift for the accomplishment of some extraordinary goals.

I also agree with Sandra, that her daughter had a higher purpose–to help increase the awareness of bullying in the school she attended. If Sandra‚Äôs daughter would have quietly and quickly fled to another school the following would NOT have happened:

1. The stepping up of resources at the school for raising awareness about bullying, e.g. assemblies and education on the topic
2. Increasing the number of counselors available at the school
3. The coming forth of other students who were also bullied but who were too scared to do anything about it. (What a relief they must have felt.)
4. Counseling for the bullies themselves
5. The sense of accomplishment of all she has done for her fellow students as well as the learning that the daughter must have experienced going through the process rather than running away from it.

Sometimes some of us go through a process so that others do not have to experience it with the same intensity and pain. Luckily, she had her mother there with her, guiding her to make a difference for many.

By the way, I’ve heard there is a documentary called Finding Kind. It’s about helping girls to heal and find community together. It has been highly recommend. I haven’t personally watched it, but want to mention it here as a resource for teachers, teens and their parents, to help with the bullying problem.

 

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