Posted tagged ‘how to stop bullying’

Bullied On School Bus

October 4, 2010

Its all over the news again.  Horrific stories of children being mercilessly bullied, sometimes to the breaking point.

Recently, an Orlando man, outraged by the bullying abuse of his 12 year old disabled daughter (being smacked, spit on, being pelted with open condoms), stormed on her bus and verbally vented some of his fury at her tormentors. You can watch the video here:

Predictably, he was the one arrested, and school administrators are doing the denial dance, saying they had no idea there was a problem.

James Jones, the father of the bullied girl, has apologized for losing his temper and retained an attorney.  His family now faces financial destruction as a result of the legal battle he now faces.

In my opinion, apologizing was a HUGE mistake.  His daughter (and now his entire family) are the victims here.  I believe he acted in a way consistent with what any parent would do when their child faces a serious and imminent threat.  But he was probably acting on the advice of council who told him that the legal system is sometimes more lenient on people who supplicate themselves.

The school administrators aren’t losing any sleep- after all, they’ve got the “ignorant and blameless” defense in full force, and they can show that their school has a “tough anti-bullying policy” in place.  For all the good it does.  Which is no good at all.

The bullies are yucking it up, and still doing their thing.  I’m sure the bus is still looks like a kennel of dogs on crack. No consequences there, either.


Here’s a clip from the Jones family appearing on the Today Show.  Heartbreaking, pretty much as you’d expect.  But pay special attention to Mat Laurer’s comment at 4:32

“… we’d all like to wrap our kids in a protective bubble… but isn’t there a time when we have to let them fend for themselves?”


Are you suggesting a 12 year old girl with Cerebral Palsy “fend for herself” against a pack of vicious thugs?  Seriously?


“Permission To Defend Yourself”

February 7, 2010

Hmmm, ignoring these kids doesn't seem to be working.....

Anyone who has children (or who has been a child) knows that  kids tease eachother, kids push, kids hit, kids wrestle around.  All perfectly normal, all perfectly natural.  Ordinary  conflicts, including hurt feelings and bruises from rough housing are a vital part of childhood, and present opportunities to learn a range of social skills.  Bullying, on the other hand, is normal, but not healthy.  Behaviors intended  to harm, belittle, ostracize, intimidate, or cause injury need special consideration.

A parent who’s done their best to raise a well mannered, peaceful child often encounters situations where their kid’s kindness is mistaken for weakness.  At that point, a peaceful, polite child becomes the target of his (or her) more aggressive, predatory peers.

Many times, I’ve heard parents confronted by this situation finally say “I give you permission to defend yourself”.  And they think that somehow, this magic green light is going to solve a the problem.  Let me be clear.  It wont.

Can you imagine a parent being proud of telling their child, “if you fall into the ocean, I give you permission to swim.”  Ridiculous, right?  No one should need permission to assert an inherent right. And besides, the time to learn to swim is well before you find yourself in deep water.  The good news is that a parent doesn’t need to be Michael Phelps to teach their kid to tread water.

When it comes to parenting, almost everything is a balancing act and this is no different.   When your kid has the training and the go-ahead  to use force when appropriate, you want to be sure they don’t become the new  uber-bully. The when, why and how of using physical force needs to be discussed before hand, so that when a kid is on the firing line, they aren’t paralyzed by indecision.

“Defending Yourself” does NOT mean waiting till the other guy hits you – no one is going to be very effective after they’ve been pummeled.  If circumstances call for it, and a child does  need to fight, you need to stand behind your child 100%. In today’s environment, the kid who defends himself always gets in as much or more trouble than the kid who started it. “Zero Tolerance” (which equate to zero thinking, zero judgment, zero discretion) policies are becoming the norm.  So if a physical altercation happens on school grounds and your child is suspended, give them 100% support, and encourage them to accept their punishment proudly.  There’s no honor in becoming a willing victim.

Real fights are ugly, messy and dangerous.  They can result in serious injury.  Fighting is a very serious option of last resort- but it needs to be an option.

“Permission to defend yourself”  is a good place to start- when it’s followed by, “here’s how”