I was in the pit of despair. My sweet 8-year-old friend, B, had been bullied at school by two other third-grade girls.
Really??? THIRD grade!!!
How to help B? Stop her harassers? Crush this ugly cycle of hurting others that has become an epidemic?
I felt powerless and sick at heart, especially living 500 miles away from B. Turning to experts and friends who'd seen this happen before, I discovered 5 ways to stop bullying now.
“I was bullied in 2nd grade by a group of kids.
I never forgot it. Later on in middle school,
another pair of bullies made my life miserable until we moved….”
~ H, friend who was bullied
Unlike H, I was lucky growing up. I had only minor brushes with bullying.
Don’t know how a painfully shy, awkward me escaped harassment during socially treacherous middle-school years. Sure, I was teased a bit about my done-at-home haircut and off-trend outfits. Hmm, was that bullying? But I learned to fade into the background and escape harm.
I might have been an upstander in elementary school, having leverage as a top broad jumper and runner who helped my class win school-wide sporting competitions. When a group of kids threatened to stop liking me if I kept my friendship with Susanne Rickles (a kid I now recognize as being on the high-functioning end of the Asperger’s spectrum), I ignored them without consequence.
The impact of bullying recently hit home when I learned my third-grade friend, B, was crying and anxious about school because two classmates were making her life miserable.
B’s parents and teacher were on top of the situation right away, but I wanted to do something, too. But what could I do living so far away?
I discovered five strategies from my social network and online experts to help stop bullying.
1. Boost Self-Confidence
"[Powerlessness] is one of the most damaging messages that children receive when they are experiencing bullying ... the feeling that they cannot help themselves and no one will help them. Shoring up her own self-confidence will be the greatest form of support she can receive right now."
- Marlene Dillon,
Proud2BNaturalMe and dynamo behind Facebook's #IMOVERBULLYING movement
2. Be Relentless
”Keep asking questions to the school, to the parents …. Don’t let this one slip through the cracks.”
~ T, former teacher
3. Act Swiftly with Your Village
"It takes the students, school, counselors, teachers, and parents to nip it [bullying] in the bud as fast as they can. The longer it goes on, the worse it will be for all of them."
~ R, former substitute teacher
4. Act Consistently
Experts confirmed my friends’ wise counsel. The website stopbullying.gov, an excellent online resource for kids, parents, teachers, and communities, pointed to fast, unfailing adult response:
"When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying behavior they send the message that it is not acceptable. Research shows this can stop bullying behavior over time."
5. Find a Way YOU can Make a Difference to Stop Bullying
I struggled to come up with a way I could turn this advice into action. As a writer, I decided to pen a letter of encouragement to this sweet child. It wasn't much, but I didn't want to just stand by and do nothing.
B's story has a positive outcome so far.
Because she opened up to her parents, they worked with her teacher to take immediate action. The mean girls apologized to B and, hopefully, stopped harassing her. But damage has been done. While B tolerates school, she remains anxious. Her parents and teacher remain vigilant, too. My fingers are crossed, but I fret about what school challenges B may face in her future
What’s your experience with bullying? What resources or tips can you offer to stop it? Please share in the comment section.
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4/5/2019 02:35:01 pm
A truly meaningful and important post, Cat! My first bullying experience was in the third grade, but without the attention devoted to the issue today, the only resolution was to stand up to them or give in. I stood up to them, and often for others. Sadly, other friends withdrew, submitted, and suffered all thru the years. It is so good to see this important issue receiving the focus and attention now that it warrants. Will surely be sharing this to pass along this helpful information. Your beautiful, heartfelt letter is in a word -- Brilliant -- reminding me of the "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus" letter. So very well done. 🤠🐻❤️
4/9/2019 03:16:34 pm
James, I am sorry to learn that you and your friends were bullied. Proud of YOU for pushing back at your tormentors. I am constantly stunned by the cruelty some exhibit; hopeful when I hear of upstanders like you.
4/6/2019 03:06:36 pm
Cat, your post is so important!
4/9/2019 03:22:24 pm
Rosie, I can barely think about the horrors of cyberbullying! Spot on about zero tolerance. I also think workshops/lessons in school will help kids learn how to recognize and stand up to bullying.
4/8/2019 06:48:52 am
Beautiful letter. I wish these kinds of resources were around when I was a kid. I was bulled from 6th to 11th grade and it didn't seem anyone could do anything about it. I'd second the Boost-Self Confidence advice. Bulling damages that even years after it has stopped.
4/9/2019 03:26:31 pm
My neart goes out to you for being bullied in secondary school, Auden. I cannot imagine the difficulty and helplessness you experienced. One adult can make a difference and stop that cycle of low self-esteem.
4/8/2019 06:26:16 pm
Such important information you shared, Cat! "B" is so lucky to have someone like you in her life to support and help her through this. Loved your letter to her. Fortunately, like you, I did not experience a lot of bullying in school, but I know it's a real problem today. Your blog on the subject was great!
4/9/2019 03:31:51 pm
julie, we were the lucky ones who escaped bullying. I fear it is getting worse today, especially with cyberbullying. B was wise to open up right away to her family and teachers, so they could take action. I also fear too many kids suffer in silence.
4/10/2019 07:40:23 am
Beautiful letter! As a writer, what a great thing to do for B. My second book that is due out this summer, Shawn's Way, deals with someone who is a target of a person who bullies. I have seen a lot written about the impact of bullying on self esteem and suicide. But I have been seeing more about empowering kids and trying to make it stop. It does take a village, but I am glad to see us starting to take a more active stand against it.
4/13/2019 11:57:32 am
Sharon, your new book sounds amazing. Can't wait to read it and share with B! We need to do more with empowering all kids to be upstanders. I would love to see a curriculum integrated throughout all grades to show kids HOW.
4/19/2019 03:26:30 pm
I think sometimes the victim doesn't even realize that what he/she is experiencing is bullying. It helps to put words on it. Thanks for the post.
5/2/2019 01:16:13 pm
Carol, it may be hard for kids to put a name to it, but they can tell bullying smashes self esteem and confidence. You're spot on: Kids need to know a language and process for kicking bullying to the curb.
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