Bullying. I Said It.
Yesterday, I said it for the second time in two years “I was a bully.”
My bullying started in the first grade when I found my little brother crying on the playground during recess.
When I got to him I asked him what happened. He said “that boy over there pushed me down” and I quickly asked who”? He pointed to him and off I went.
Bullying. I Did It.
My memory goes something like this – I went up to that little boy who was probably a complete head shorter than me and I pushed him in the chest and said, “you leave my baby brother alone”.
This was my first memory of intimidating and being physical with another person.
I was a seven-year-old first grader and had already learned how to defend my inner circle.
My next memory is a few years later fighting Darlene Holes in the bus garage at our middle school. I remember each of us taking one swing at each other and unfortunately I knocked the wind out of her. To this day I have no memory of what got us to that point of fighting it out in the bus garage.
The following year I gave Andy Palmer a black eye. For the next two weeks we passed each other in the hallway and I took great pride that he was scared shitless of me (a girl) and no longer harassed my little brother at the bus stop.
Bullying. I Regret It.
These memories and more came rushing back to me after having a very personal conversation with the high school daughter of dear friends of mine when we were playing golf this week. She too was being bullied at school and informed me this had been going on for sometime.
After lots of conversation back and forth I confessed to Molly that I had been a bully.
Bullying. I Remember It.
In our conversation, I shared with her that I was able to trace the roots of my bullying back to the domestic violence I was exposed to in my childhood.
She was gracious and gentle and said my situation was different than the one she was experiencing and for a moment I wanted to believe her.
I wanted to believe I was only protecting my little brother from others that wanted to do him harm. But the truth is I wanted to intimidate or hurt others before they could hurt my brother or me. At the age of seven I was already actualizing the root of bullying – real or perceived power imbalance.What I realized in my conversation with Molly is that my bullying most likely had significant impact on many people’s lives to a degree I will never know. And regardless of the circumstances there is no excuse or reason a person should bully another.
As the parent of a kindergartener – who at the age of five could already identify bullying in cartoons, on television and in the park – it is my responsibility to continue to reinforce many values and behaviors I didn’t possess as a younger person.
It is also my commitment to teach my son that verbal, social and physical bullying has zero tolerance in our home, in our family and in our community. And equally important that “No means No”.
Molly says she is doing “o.k.” She knows her parents are there to advocate for her, the administration at her school is aware of the circumstances and have intervened. She is a straight A student, talented athlete and has as a large circle of friends, but as she says “I can’t wait to graduate from this school and go to college”.
And she also says, “the bullying at my school still continues”. After hearing her story, it is clear students will always be smarter than the administrators to some level and administrators will always be behind the eight ball to some degree.
Below is an anti-bullying video she made last year. It is with great emotion and pride that I am including it in my blog today.
For more resources on bullying please see the links below.