Growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Toronto does something to a kid. It made me never give up on my dreams, and it dared me to go beyond what I believed I could do. For Freedom Friday let me tell you about my experience with an epidemic plaguing the schools in today’s enlightened age.
If you learn anything from this post, learn one thing—kids don’t change. As we grow older, we think kids are getting worse when in fact we’re the ones noticing their behavior. Once we have kids of our own, our awareness of the evil surrounding us multiplies astronomically.
Kids don’t change. We change.
Someone may ask, why the surge of bullying in the schools? Bullying has existed long before you and I were born. Anyone remember Nazi Germany? But we hear more of it. Well, there are more people on this planet. Also, the internet makes bullying an instant news item with kids recording this stuff on their cell phones and posting it on YouTube.
It’s not the kids.
When I went to school in the 1970s, I had my own dilemma of sorts. At eight years old, a group of kids had determined in their little minds that I would suffice as their daily punching bag. Every afternoon I’d attempt to avoid the pack, escaping school by the side exit or waiting until everyone was gone so I could run home. Sometimes I’d make it. But sometimes, I’d get home covered in bruises.
I was afraid to tell my parents because I didn’t want to get in trouble. Most of the times I’d cover my injuries with long sleeves or pants. Once in a while I’d get home and my mother would notice. I’d lie and tell her I fell or something ridiculous like I ran into a baseball during gym class.
They were none the wiser for a long time.
That is, until I came home one day with the biggest shiner this side of the school district. Boy, oh boy, was my dad ever upset. He wanted to know the names of the culprits. He wanted to go down there and beat the crap out of them himself. My mom was calling the school to set up a meeting with the principal. In the meantime, all I wanted was for the whole thing to go away. I’m telling you, folks, my parents were proactive people.
I begged them not to get involved. I promised I’d handle it on my own. Well, my dad, being the practical man he was, gave me a piece of advice I’ve remembered to this day.
He said, “Hit back.”
I said, “I can’t.”
“They won’t expect it. If you don’t, they’ll keep hounding you.”
“Hit back and they’ll leave you alone. I promise.”
Somehow, those words, “I promise” made all the difference.
The next day after school, they came for me. I ran and they caught me on the sidewalk, surrounding me like the little zombies they were. Pushing and shoving. All I remember is decking the biggest guy square on the jaw. I don’t think I drew blood, but like my dad said, they left me, never to bother me again.
Would I recommend the same solution for today’s bullied? No, I’d recommend for those bullied to go to their parents. If not the parents, the guardians. Should that prove to be difficult, the school guidance counselor or principal. Failing that, the police. Whoever it is, they have to reach out to someone to get help. This is not a struggle for kids to go through alone.
There is no room for bullies in the schools or anywhere else.
Below is a list of helplines for your region:
Canada: Stop a Bully
UK: National Bullying Helpline
Have you had to deal with bullying? What would be your solution in today’s world?