Bullying does not usually look like this.
Bullying is mostly excluding, ignoring, ridiculing, and teasing. That doesn't mean it hurts any less.
Or maybe my mom was right, and the bully is "just jealous" of how pretty and smart the victim is.
Yep. Used to be a victim.
I went to a small Catholic parochial school. My best friend in 1st grade turned into my worst enemy for the next seven years.
For the first few years, all playground games involved running away from me.
In fifth or sixth grade, she found out that my family said the rosary every night.
Shortly after that, all the kids started calling me "R.F." which I soon found out meant "Religious Freak."
That's when I stopped sharing anything from my home life at school.
We went to the same high school, which was much larger. I found my crowd, she found hers. She was a cheerleader. She married a wrestler. I was an honors student. I performed in every play. I don't know if she went to college. At our reunion, she was working in a children's photography studio.
I went far, far away to the University of Dallas where I met many people who said the rosary every day, including my beloved husband. I went even farther away on my Rome semester, saw the Pope, visited a dozen countries. And I moved far away, to the big metropolis of Chicago.
At that class reunion, it was obvious that my husband and I were some of the better educated and classier people in the room. For most of my classmates, Reunion Night was just another night to get hammered with the people they had been getting hammered with for 20+ years.
Shortly after that class reunion, it was brought to my attention that son could be a bully.
There was one kid at school that he just did not like.
He'd take his baseball cap and run away with it. Nothing like "R.F." but still the same idea.
There could be lots of reasons my son did this. He had constitutional growth delay and was smaller than everyone his age and a year or two younger. He was in a multi-age classroom where his younger sister was taller and advancing more quickly on the public reading skills chart. There were very few boys his age at school. Or maybe my husband is right, and that kid was really annoying and deserved it. (Just kidding!)
Eventually, due to these and many other reasons, we changed schools. My son and his sister were in separate classrooms. My son was a little fish in a big pond now, where there were a lot more boys his age and even a few his size.
Unfortunately, my daughter's new classroom had only a handful of girls, with a well-established caste system. One or two big personalities there put her in her place.
They had a rule that wherever you sat at lunch on the first day of school was where you had to eat lunch every day for the rest of the school year. She had happened to sit on the end of the table by another new girl who rarely if ever talked that first day, and was sentenced to sit there for the first year.
I didn't hear about it until the next year however. First day of school, new year. She got to the cafeteria extra early to get a "good" seat, only to be informed by the Mean Girls that they were using same seats as last year.
Then I got involved.
But for a whole year, I had no idea!
I really wasn't the right person to help her, so I turned to Mr. Internet and found an amazing resource.
It was a website called www.bullies2buddies.com. Psychologist, Izzy Kalman had written some simple lessons, often comparing human behavior to different animal behaviors, that made perfect sense! Plus, there were tips on how to make friends when you are the new kid, how to get kids to like you, or at the very least, how to get kids to stop teasing you.
My daughter learned some life skills that year. Plus, a nearby Catholic school closed, and some very nice girls transferred to her class as a result.
The Bullies2Buddies website has become a big advertisement for buying stuff, but the original lessons are still there for free if you dig around. Here is the link to the page with the free manuals, this is the intro that I found so enlightening all those years ago, and I've linked to my favorite lessons above.
Looking back on my grade school years, I could have done some things differently. For one thing, getting my parents' involved would have helped. I survived and today I'm a happy, well-adjusted (for the most part) person with boatloads of friends.
So ends my soap box speech on Bullying. Care, be aware, and if necessary, try those links for some concrete tools to help kids who need a friend.