Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Bullies are Everywhere
Yo, Mick here… you know - the grinning canine!
Occasionally I’m asked, “What do you think about bullying? What should we teach our kids about Bullying, what it can to do others and hurt inside others?”
I’ve included a picture of my bro, Red after an encounter with a bully about 18 months ago.
I wrote about it then too - There have been subsequent encounters but none that show how seriously bullying harms – on the outside. The damage inflicted internally is much greater and may last a lifetime!
The scars on the inside appear in the choices my Red makes - the internal dialog he has with himself, the fun opportunities he denies himself – out of fear… I don’t know if these will ever heal? Mum and I’ve done a lot of research about bullies and their victims but there’s not a lot of encouraging data on the recovery – and we’ve not found any about where “autism rules” are made internally.
Bullying is the entire absence of humanity – and worse!
Contrary to the repeated antiquated research reinforced and portrayed in coming of age romantic movies bullies are not usually abused-themselves cowards.
Most bullies thrive on their powers to inflict harm because they are sociopaths.
Reasoning with them is not going to work and showing them the harm they cause only feeds their egos.
Don’t waste your precious energies thinking of how to turn a bullying encounter into a win-win for your kids and the bully – your child will lose!
Also be very aware that bullies recruit minions! Not all minions are those cute yellow cuddly creatures.
By all means, take the opportunity to educate your children whenever they encounter bullies – even when on TV or in movies or stories! Talk about the bully. The choices they make. Talk about other ways to handle bullying, how to safely stand up to them, how to be invisible to them, setting up personal boundaries and so forth. Teach you kids how to be safe and to make safe choices.
One regret on the topic of bullies - Years ago it was suggested to mum to give my brother Red martial arts lessons. He refused – but oh how I wish I’d pushed them both harder and insisted! I think we all would have learned a lot! And think of the fun we could have had as a family working toward our black belts together!
Anyway, bullies may have coward-like tendencies mostly because they are not equipped with humanity traits. Also they have a predictable pattern of abuse that involves singling out those with lesser social abilities - such as our buddies on the autism spectrum.
I’m not saying its our buddies’ fault that they are bullied.
I’m saying we have got to get better at teaching all kids about bullies and also modeling behavior that discourages bullying. Kids today need even better tools and information than our mums and dad had.
It can be a dog-eat-dog world out there!
I am the poster child for modeling tolerance and compassion and this is good but equally important is modeling how to handle bad behavior and difficult or abusive people.
I’m learning how to do this better and trying to teach my bro too. It is very possible to learn how to not be a victim. And to fake it until you make it. I’m now learning how to draw boundaries, enlist help, and showing my boy how to do the same.
Its tricky overcoming a tail wagging nature though! We want to trust – humanity depends on our trust of one another.
The next school day after the photo was taken mum approached the school police to seek pressing charges against the kid who sent my boy to ER (and what an experience that was with the Autism factor!). The officer told her that he would not be pressing charges against my boy.
He kept staring at mum as if he expected her to be grateful!
I darn near bit him!
The incident involved a girl who told this minion-bully to do a trigger thing that totally freaks my bro out (its viral now – every kid in town either knows it directly or has at least heard about it). When he’d been surprised by the trigger my boy threw his reading paperback book toward the bully and ran to his special education English classroom. The much bigger bully-minion caught up to Red, picked him up and threw him bodily on the asphalt.
The black eye and tweaked nose were the result of my boy’s own knee bashing himself as he impacted with the ground.
Nope – I just can’t seem to be grateful about not having my boy arrested for battery and neither can mum.
Here’s the way I see it - The problem is that many schools and even communities are infested with bullies or those that tolerate bully behavior. Blindly we think of bullies as our kids’ peers – that’s just not true enough. Mum works for the same school district that allowed this to happen to my brother.
Mum and I’ve been screaming and howling “bully-foul” for nearly 4 years and the school does nothing but lip-quote policy, “…there is zero tolerance…” just like thousands of schools here in the USA – probably the world and yet their very actions say otherwise.
The reason my boy’s trigger is known throughout the community is because of the middle school gym coach who turned a blind eye while Red was being tortured in the locker room with kids mooing at him almost 5 years ago. Yes – as in making cow mooing noises.
What’s more harmless than a moo?
Red has a great BS detector and knew he was being bullied but he didn’t have the skills to handle it on his own or communicate it to myself, mum or his 1:1 or anyone else! And his reactions were getting more and more attention from peers and even friends who eventually joined in the mooing. Then the day came when he got too loud in his reactions to being tormented and the coach threw him out of the locker room telling him he couldn’t return.
Mum worked at the same school site in an SDC as a classroom aide while she completed her MA in SPED – she heard Red screaming from across the blacktop and ran out of the classroom - he leaped into her arms like he was 4.
His 1:1 aide ran up behind him confirming that the coach had told him to stay out of his locker room. She was almost as distraught as Red. Mum was really upset and Angry too!
She calmed Red then went to the principal and told him the coach couldn’t do that – and don’t you know these guys are good-ol-buddies? In defense of the principal he did go in and talk to the offending boys the next day - but in a way that only contributed to the moo-trigger going viral.
The principal told the boys that if any of them ever mooed at Red again they’d be suspended. So many of them began having friends moo at him instead.
The coach was never written up - “he’s a retired col. from the Army Reserves, decorated vet, a man worthy of respect…bla bla bla”. I’ve some nice teeth I’d like to show respect with but mum wont let me!
I guess my point is that bullies live in every community and are often deliberately or inadvertently protected by people in authority or by the very same laws that should also protect us all.
Think of Enron, the Catholic priests in the news as late, mortgage brokers who use unsavory tactics, and so on even terrorists in the sandbox… Sometimes it feels like the rules only apply to us – like leash laws! Also there are so many who seem to be rewarded for breaking the rules.
I’m not a doom and gloomer by nature – I wag my tail and flash my charming canine grin and given the choice Mum wears rose colored glasses daily – really – rose tinted lenses, but we’ve had to learn to also acknowledge that there are those in our community who are here to teach us a lesson in what the lack of humanity looks like. So in that light, perhaps the sociopath-bully-minion has their place.
People don’t always do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do.
Currently mum’s working with an advocate because the same school district is failing to educate Red. He’s made nearly no academic gains in well over 4 years! Maybe this is an emotional response because of the bullying? Maybe they are just not equipped to run a school? Maybe they can’t see the potential we see in Red? Maybe they can’t see far enough into the future to want to create a taxpayer instead of a tax drain? Who knows?
Mum and I use our patience and tolerance for those who deserve it; each other, family and the students we work with. The rest we distribute among friends and those we hope will not take advantage of our gifts.
When we teach kids about bullies, I feel we need to teach them that they are really out there in the world we share. We need to bone up on the skills necessary to handle or otherwise avoid those who will bully others. AND there truly are more good people than evil and how to cultivate those people into healthy relationships.