THE IMPACT OF BULLYING
Several weeks ago I wrote a blog about stopping bullying and suggesting that the mothers of America form a national anti-bullying organization similar to MADD, I received hundreds of replies from women volunteering to help start the organization or to run it after it had been started. In addition, I received a number of irate complaints about my supposition that the bullies suffered more than those being bullied. A number maintained that was not true and they gave examples of where the opposite was true. One woman wrote me a 14 page letter explaining how those who are being bullied not only suffered at the moment but throughout their lives and gave me specific data to back up her case. When I asked if I could use her data in this blog, she said I could use the information but only in a way that did not expose who she was or where she lived. She explained how four years ago she and other parents whose children were being bullied ran for the school board and took it over. Since then the school board has implemented very strict anti-bullying policies and they are afraid if I named them they will be overwhelmed by lawsuits filed by the ACLU or similar organizations.
This 14 page letter said that approximately 70% of those being bullied skip school regularly,
and many of their parents didn’t know it because the kids wrote their own excuses and signed their parents names. When we researched this we found that less than half of the students In suburban schools who are being bullied skipped school regularly but about 15% skipped occasionally. We know this because we already had a list of youngsters who were being bullied so we checked their attendance record and found it was true, they were often absent. Once we discovered this we looked to see what effect it had on their school work and found as a result of these absences their grades dropped often dramatically. So if your youngsters grades have dropped noticeably, I suggest you immediately get the password to your child’s cell phone. Many of them will resist giving you this because they will claim it’s their right to privacy. Today kids cannot have a right to privacy with their cell phones because the Internet is a very dangerous place. Do whatever you have to do to get that password because without it you will not know if your child is being bullied or doing the bullying and believe it or not in some cases both. It will also probably tell you if he or she is cutting school,taking drugs or doing any of a dozen other things that can cause major problems in their lives. You will know this because most kids today live on their cell phones.
The third and most interesting conclusion reached by this group was that youngsters who were being bullied became passive not only in school but in other areas. Because they were being bullied they kept a low profile. The administration asked the teachers to watch the students they suspected were being bullied and they reported most did not make eye contact with other students while in class or when walking in the hallway. They were less likely to participate In games at recess or after school. Many of them sat alone not only during recess but during lunch. Apparently, avoiding contact with all the students didn’t just become a habit but a lifestyle. Some only had friends online and not in person. When teachers and their fellow students were asked to describe those being bullied most said they were, chicken, cowardly, timid, loners.( I cleaned this up) Follow-up studies conducted by my organization show that these negative habits were so ingrained during their high school years that they remained a permanent part of their personalities. After they left High School they remained loners who seemed to be very unsure of themselves and as a result didn’t do very well in college, finding jobs or once they did remaining employed. A substantial percentage ended up living with their parents years after they graduated from college. They don’t seem to have the get-up-and-go of normal youngsters. Being bullied can have life changing consequences So if you find your youngster is being bullied do whatever you have to do to stop it and do it Immediately.
The woman who wrote the letter had children in middle-class affluent suburban schools where fights between young women were rare, in the last four years there had been only three physical confrontations between girls. The attacker in one case was a small girl who was being bullied by a group and when she confronted them, one of them told her they were not only going to continue to bully her on line they intended to increase the bullying. She became so angry she knocked the other girls chair over and punched her in the face. When she was taken to the principal’s office she showed the principal what the other girls had written online. “She was a tramp( Once again, I cleaned this up) and was willing to sleep with any boy who just asked. In fact you don’t have to ask just grab her and have fun.” The principal told her that her behavior was disgraceful and she was suspended from school. When she asked what would happen to the other girl, he said what she did was outside of school and he had nothing to do with that.
When her mother showed up and complained that comment on line was a virtual invitation to rape her daughter, he told her the same thing, She hired a lawyer, asked her children and their friends who was being bullied in school, organized their parents who became the anti-bullying party, won the next School Board election, convinced the principal to move and wrote me that letter. I tried to talk her into helping me form the National Organization against bullying but she said she was too busy she had four other children still in school.
I am still looking for mothers who will help me form or help me run a National Organization against bullying. We have had a number of people who will help us form the organization but only a few who volunteered to help run such a large complex organization. The only enticement I can give you is that I suspect it will become a very large successful organization and eventually those running it will be paid very well. I intend to be part of the board for the first year or two to help get it started and then leave. Please read my earlier blog on bullying. It will surprise some of you and save some of your children.