Friday, January 22, 2016

Some Bullies Never Grow Up


Some Bullies Never Grow Up

By: Theresa Oliver



Bullies. Some never grow up.
Something happened to us while we were in Tennessee for my father-in-law’s funeral and my wheels started turning.
While in Tennessee and needing some much needed fun time with our family, my husband, Tommy, and I decided to take our children out to see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2. Please understand that my husband has severe hearing loss and does not wear hearing aides, despite my insistence for him to. That said, when we go to our local movie theater, he usually rents an external hearing device; however, the theater we went to in Tennessee did not have one.
Dutifully, my husband has watched every Hunger Games movie with our children and me, along with the whole Twilight Saga franchise. The genre isn’t really is cup of tea, but he tolerates it for us. Although he never read the books, he became quite interested in the story line of the movies, in spite of himself.
That night, the movie theater was abandoned, save for a few couples in the back … many rows behind us. There was no one within earshot around us, so my husband—in a very low voice, I could hardly hear him—asked me a few questions about the movie, especially dialogue that he didn’t catch. We were quiet and not disturbing a soul.
Or, so we thought.
Suddenly, a male voice boomed throughout the theater, “Stop talking! If you want to talk, go outside in the hallway! The rest of us want to watch the movie!”
Strike one.
He scared the crap out of my young children.
Strike two.
My reaction? I yelled in a very loud voice, “You know what? Why don’t you just shut up?”
The result was dead silence in the theater for the rest of the movie.
Although I fully expected him to come up behind me and say or do something more, he did nothing. He said nothing.
My takeaway from this was that some bullies never grow up. Some bullies start out as children and continue when no one ever stands up to them. However, when someone finally stands up to them, they back right down. Usually, their bark is much worse than their bite.
The movie-theater bully is my case in point.
I’ve said it before and many of you know that in addition to being a published author, I am also a teacher. In the county within which I work, teachers are mandatory reporters. This means that in y position as a teacher, it is a felony if I am aware of bullying and do not report it to the proper authorities. This includes cases of child abuse and, you got it, cases of bullying.
It is important to note that true bullying is not just a one-time incident, but on-going instances and makes the victim feel belittled or mentally or physically abused..
Oftentimes, cases of bullying go unreported in schools, as people are afraid to stand up to the bully for fear of getting beaten or of suffering some other form of retribution from the bully.
According to the American Society for the Positive Care of Children, 28 percent students in 37 states, ages 12-18, reported that they had been bullied in his or her school, according to the Indicators of School Crime and Safety: 2013 report provided by the US Department of Education, and that 70.6 percent of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.
In addition, according to BullyingStatistics.org, “there is a strong link between bullying and suicide, as suggested by recent bullying-related suicides in the US and other countries.”
In the county where I work, instances of bullying have decreased dramatically over the past several years as a result of district-wide incentives to report and combat bullying. Our school district’s anti-bullying campaign educates students to report bullying whether it happens to them or if they see it happening to someone else. The campaign also teaches students that bullying belittles and degrades students, and encourage students not to bully their peers.
In my experience, bullies feel low about themselves and put down other people in order to feel better about themselves. They don’t care who they hurt as long as they feel better about themselves.
Once we instill a sense of self pride and self-worth within our children, they will no longer feel the need to bully others. There will be no need to as they already feel good about themselves. Also, we can teach children that you get a better feeling and feel better about yourself by helping others, not hurting them.
As a nation, we must stand up to bullies and give them no power over us. Only then will the bully back off. But when we keep quiet and don’t report it, the bully has power over their victims, and takes a part of the victim’s soul and spirit in the process.
In the incident I mentioned above, the bully felt as though he could act. It was a darkened theater where no one could see him and he thought that everyone would just back down.
He thought wrong.
Having no real courage of their own, bullies act in the shadows, or in front of their peers who they are sure will back them up. But when confronted, they back down, revealing the true cowards that they are.
As a nation, we must educate our children not to bully others, to report instances of bullying, and that bullying hurts. As parents, we must do the same.
After all, our children are our future. Let’s make it a good one, free of bullies and free of fear. For it takes true courage to stand up to a bully or to report bullying when you see it. It is my dream for our children to live in a bully-free society, free from fear, as children and as adults, as well.

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