Repeated Bullying by a Child’s Peers and
Adults Negatively Influences Quality of Life
by Flowering Spring Tree
This month, I had some difficulty bringing myself to write this blog article. It was not because I didn't want to, because I did. It was that the issue about which I wanted to write is painful and one for which I desperately desire to experience positive change.
A child with whom I am familiar has experienced much bullying throughout his life. This kind and sweet 10-year-old boy has experienced more the average child. This is mostly because other children bully him, and when he reacts or stands up for himself in some way, he is always the one who is blamed, punished, and therefore, re-victimized. I am aware that during the current school year, he has experienced four situations of other children (anywhere between one and four children bullying him at any one time) bullying him, teasing him, taunting him, belittling and degrading him, provoking him, and/or physically hitting or pushing him with force. In all of the situations, he was blamed, punished, and re-victimized by each of the adults who handled the situations. In one situation in which a boy forcefully pushed him, there was not even any documentation of the incident.
I am aware that the mother of the child who is repeatedly bullied, blamed, and punished expressed her concerns about two of the four incidents to school administrators and school system administrators due to the harsh disciplinary consequences issued by the school. The reaction of the school administration has been typical in all such situations involving the child who has been repeatedly bullied – he is bullied, blamed, punished, and re-victimized. The bullies did not receive any consequences, but for one who was merely required to write an apology letter to the boy. The boy feels that no one is supportive of him in his efforts to defend and protect himself. He has learned that he is the one who is harshly punished by school leaders when standing up for himself against bullies. He has learned that school is not a safe or fun place anymore. He does not want to go to school. He is very sad about school and the lack of support he receives against bullies, such that he had cried about having to go to school.
In a recent bullying situation of which I am aware involving this boy, his class was having physical education instruction and was playing kickball. When the boy was unable to catch a ball that came to him, four of his male peers belittled and degraded him. One boy yelled at him. This is all for being unable to catch a ball. There is no sensitivity or consideration by these boys, only hurtful words and yelling at the boy for being unable to catch the ball. Where was the teacher, allowing all of this to occur? Teachers are supposed to maintain good classroom management. There certainly was no classroom management in this situation, and so, it escalated. The boy who is repeatedly bullied put his elbow into the stomach of one of the bullies. Tired of tolerating and accepting all of the repeated bullying, he lashed out…and he was the one, again, who was blamed, harshly punished, and re-victimized by the adults who dealt with the situation at school.
In my perspective, any situation such as this in which the bullies receive no consequences condones, accepts, and supports bullying. When bullying that instigates and provokes a situation such as this is not effectively addressed and no consequences are issued to the bullies, the bullies have become empowered. They have won…again. They know that their hurtful words and/or actions are okay, they are acceptable. They do it because they can get away with it…every time. When adults who assess such situations issue consequences to the victim of the bullying who is trying to stand up for himself, they have unfairly evaluated the situation and have been unfair to the victim…again. The adults who have unfairly meted out consequences to the victim are, therefore, bullies themselves. Administrators who are higher in status than those who issue consequences, and who support that their subordinates are doing the right thing for students are misguided. In fact, they are not doing the right thing for students by supporting the bullies and punishing the victims, repeatedly.
This is how bullying occurs in schools. This is how particular children are repeatedly bullied, both by their peers and by the adults who are supposed to be protective and/or responsible for them. And, this is how children who are bullied lose faith, hope, trust, and a positive outlook that anything will ever improve. Even in school such as this in which there is character education, class guidance counseling, and other “feel guide” measures to deter bullying, they appear to be ineffective and are programs that are only going through the motions at attempting to stop bullying. Effective measures are needed to stop bullying. Positive change is needed rather than a continued condoning and acceptance of bullying, as well as adults unnecessarily adding to it. Positive change is needed now, before it is too late.