Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Bullying Beyond the Playground
You know that kid in elementary school that everyone picked on? The one with a weird habit of pulling on their nose or twirling their hair? The one that answered too many questions from the teacher and didn't play kickball all that well?
You know how you sort of giggled about that person and called them names and didn't want to have to sit with them at lunch or be on a team with them?
Well, that person was me. Sixth Grade. Still, one of the worst years of my life. I forgave my tormentors years ago (they were just kids after all), but I've never been able to forgive myself. And I still see traces of that insecure and scared little girl whenever I encounter today's version of bullies (at work, at concerts, wherever).
I wonder what I could have done to protect myself - what I could have worn, said, or stopped doing to make those kids stop targeting me. I wonder how I could get that co-worker to stop giving me a hard time - or that fellow cast mate. The truth, I guess, is, you can stand up for yourself - but I think you have to know a little more about your bully.
Bullies are insecure people after all - with their own problems and fears. Is the answer to ask them what's really wrong? To reach out and help them? How long could/should you simply ignore a bully (especially if they are really threatening or abusive)?
Get an Adult? But what if you your bully is an adult, and you're an adult?
The problem with bullying is you never do grow out of it - bullies are more than a part of growing up - sometimes they are grown ups. The roles may reverse (with bullies getting picked on later or "wimps" growing into bullies over time), but in any case - it's not all schoolyard scuff-ups. Bullies lurk around every cubicle, parking lot and grocery aisle. Cyber bullying is a whole new way for jerks to get a platform - and a whole new way for others to be mistreated or targeted.
In any case - I will try to stand up for myself more - but more importantly, try NOT to bully anyone myself. It's one of those things that is hardest to recognize in yourself...but an easy thing to fix. Just stop.