Bullying: What a teacher and parent hopes for

“NIGGER!”

She yelled at me. Then she kicked me in the thigh. Hard. And she ran off.

I remember feeling my leg go dead, like when you’re punched in the arm and it just ceases to exist for a while. I remember the sting in my eyes and I remember feeling terrible.

I was in grade 4 and I was at the back of the oval sitting on a wooden bench. It was a pretty, quiet spot, with a few trees shading the area. It was a good place to get away and talk secrets with a friend. That friend had gone to the toilets. She told me to save our spot and so I did. When I was asked rudely to move I said “no” and the above was the implication from that.

It’s funny how you don’t forget these things. Even now, a ridiculous amount of years later. I can still conjure the image of her in my head and I still recall her first and last name. She was classed as a ‘tom boy’ and always had a lot of attitude. She played cricket and football with the boys and I was far from any of that.

Years later, I found people commenting about my ‘beautiful’ skin. They said they wished they had my skin tone which they were trying to acquire through too much sun or tanning lotions. I was so surprised. Wasn’t this the same skin that made me stand out? The skin that made me different and the skin that bullies used against me?

And now, I look at my beautiful 18 month old boy. His big strong body, his beautiful brown skin and his long eyelashes. And I can’t help but wonder, will these features, perfect in my eyes, be used against him and be used to hurt his feelings and integrity one day?

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As a parent, I sincerely hope not. As a parent I want to wrap him up in my arms and protect him from all the imperfections of the human race. I want to beat down anyone that dare say a cruel word against him.

As a teacher I know this is a part of learning and shaping an individual. That the world is full of bad humans and good humans and humans who are good but make mistakes. It is full of imperfection and part of that involves people being unkind to one another and hurting others by using their differences to attack. It’s cruel and it’s not fair but it happens.

As a teacher AND a parent, I know the best thing to do is make sure that he can face it. That he knows when to get help and when to stick up for himself. I want him to feel resilient and strong. Sometimes it will bring him down. But when he is older I hope he will be proud of his own skin, like I am today. Because I was raised and shaped to never be ashamed of myself or my culture.

And if he makes mistakes and is a bully one day – then I hope he will learn from his actions. That he will know that we all make mistakes and that we can move on from them. I hope that I will be there, with his teachers, to guide him to make the right choices and become a kinder person.

When it comes to your children bullying or being bullied, what do you hope for?

18 thoughts on “Bullying: What a teacher and parent hopes for

  • I hope the same as you. My kids get the typical school bullying. This person didn’t want to play with me today etc. but i always tell my children always be kind to them if they are just using their words. IF they become physical that’s when i turn into protective mama bear.
    I do say to my kids if someone really hurts you then you hurt them back. It might be wrong it might be right. I don’t know. All i know is so far they haven’t been in a physical dilemma at school. My girls are to nice to use their Maui thai on the kids at school anyways.

    • Wow Maui Thai hey! I think that’s natural instinct that ANY mum would get protective if they knew their child was being harmed physically.

  • Being bullied myself I worry for my own children to have to go through what I did, the pain of being lonesome, not understanding (even to this day) “why” I was picked on and it being so bad that they won’t like or enjoy going to school anymore.
    My oldest started school this year and I witnessed a kid punch him after school. As soon as this kid realised I was J’s mother, he took off. I had a little chat about what had happened and what J could do to avoid it happening again or if this kid kept harassing him where to find the yard duty teacher etc.
    I recently saw the kid shopping with his family and understood quickly why he acted the way he did in the school yard that day. His parents and older siblings spoke meanly and handled him roughly. I felt sorry for him 🙁
    I just hope my children will eventually see why bullies some times act the way they do but also stand their ground and not let the hurtful things said or rough play put them off enjoying their time at school.

    • Beautifully said Eliza. I think you find most people have either been bullied or bullied someone in their life. That’s awful for your son but it’s good that you are able to see why that boy may have acted that way. It’s a fine line isn’t it? Of knowing when to stand your ground and when it’s gone too far. A very difficult concept for little ones to understand – especially as each situation is different and can happen so quickly.

  • My son has just started school and there is one girl a grade above him that hassles him a bit. I have given him the words to use to tell her to leave him alone. Today he said he just stayed away from her and he was pretty pleased with himself for doing so. Of course, I am keeping an eye on the situation and hoping it goes away. I was bullied terribly at primary school and at middle school and I don’t want the same for my kids – but I also want to make sure they are not bullies themselves! The school my son goes to has a pretty good anti bully culture and education programme.

    • Awww good on him Toushka! Hope it goes away too, and it’s good you are giving him the vocabulary to deal with it. Sometimes that’s the hardest part! Finding those words to basically say ‘back off’.

  • Mostly, I hope it never happens to them 🙂 Our school too has a great anti-bullying program – which gives me confidence. But I’m sure it still happens. I try to ensure my girls believe in themselves and know they’re amazing – so the negative words of others don’t pierce their hearts.

    • 🙂 I think we all wish it never ever happens. I would love for my son to never face an unkind word against him. I guess if you’re not hearing about it then your kiddies might have great resilience and just aren’t letting it bother them which is a great thing! As long as they know where to go if something IS bothering them then they’ll be right! Sounds like the school is doing all the right things.

  • I think everyone will experience some type of teasing during their school years; the most seemingly silly comments can scar for life. I’m still dealing with being told by a fellow preppy that “my horse didn’t look like a horse, you can’t draw”….taking almost 30 years to finally be able to let go and be creative without fearing judgement! I also think “body image” is another massive issue that isn’t too far from bullying in some form as well. I don’t know the answers, but I hope I can let my kids be free to be themselves, free of judgement and expectations, able to express their creativity, be kind and have people be kind in return. There’s high expectations right there! hmmmm. lol.

    • Agreed Louise. Nearly everyone that has commented has said they experienced bullying too! I really do feel it’s just part of being human…unfortunately!

      It’s good to have high expectations. Because then, they will have high expectations of themselves in the future 😉

  • My little girl struggled with bullying, after two years of great school experience she then had two years of horrible stuff. We stuck it out for that long, really wanting her to stand up against it. We worked with the school to create a bullying policy (they had none at that stage and actually put the kids in a room together without supervision!!!! to ‘work it out’). We eventually changed her schools, feeling she had tried hard enough for two years. A great result, but not a process I would stick out for that long again, not all situations are fixable.

    • Argh that’s awful Erin. I hope she’s enjoying her new school. No supervision!? Was that a primary school? That makes me cringe! I think it’s like being in a workplace…if you’re being bullied and things aren’t changing and it’s getting too much, sometimes you do have to move on don’t you? I know many people that have been in that situation. I hope what the school put in place with you is now benefiting others.

  • This topics pretty personal to me too. I was bullied for years becasue I just soake dit all up and never stood up for myself. I feel quite nervous about the impact of social media and technology that the bulying can now be so relentless, shared and organised. You rright though all yuo can do is raise them to be the best they can be and be there for them if it does happen. Its a horrible thing. Great post Ange

    • Thanks Matt. I did think about mentioning social media in this post but that is a big story in itself! I was in the middle of my teen years just as that sort of thing was taking off – from nasty messages over msn messenger to texts and other things. Not to generalise – but it’s massive with girls. Seems so much easier to hide behind a screen and do it then face to face unfortunately 🙁

  • My daughter experienced her first bit of bullying a couple of weeks ago and it broke my heart. It’s made me wonder what sort of lasting impression that will leave on her. Thankfully it’s stopped, but I really hope it never returns. It hurt so much to see her sad. My vow is to make sure she always talks to me about anything that happens at school, no matter what.
    So sorry you had to experience this as a kid. Kids can be cruel. x

  • i just try really hard to ensure my kids are strong enough to know when to walk away, to be able to realise a situation for what it is – other shit kids trying to push them around. But it’s really hard, bullies are smart they pick their targets and somedays they are nice and then they attack when you least expect it, it can cause tough times for little kids in the playground.

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