When my son Peace was eight, he came home from vacation Bible school at church and explained to me that he'd been bullied by a five year old whom he did not know. The the spunky, mean little kid was a head shorter than him, but he kept after Peace the entire evening and had my boy cowering in a corner like a cornered cockroach about to be squashed by a shiny and black pointy toe on a high heel. I remember taking this as a terrific opportunity for Peace to learn and practice anti-bullying skills. First I made Peace understand how an entire demeanor can project "victim" by role playing the part with him. Next, I taught him how to puff up his chest, move towards the offender, and firmly state, "You stop it right now!"
Apparently, he's learned well. Peace tells me from time to time about high school jerks looking for trouble. He's gone right up to a complete stranger in the library muttering cuss words near him and stood his ground, "Hey, say it just a little louder. The librarian can't hear you." His I-mean-business approach sent that guy high tailing it out the glass doors. Another acquaintance of Peace became offended by Peace asking him not to have his trash talkin' friends around. The classmate began to escalate his behavior toward Peace into bullying. When the young man tried to knock Peace's books from his hands, Peace stepped forward and said sternly, "That was brilliant. Better NOT happen again." And it didn't. In fact, the kid has become down right friendly with Peace.
I watched Oprah today on the subject, and dog gone! The therapist taught a child on the show the same strategies I taught my son seven years ago. Thank God it was none of that wussy "Just ignore it, and it will go away" stuff. I won't abide bullying.
Goodness, two weeks ago, I watched an older boy scorn another child's reading skills in my class. I stopped what I was doing to have a not-on-my-watch chat with him.
Oprah's show opened with two mothers of boys who'd hung themselves after verbal bully attacks in the last two weeks. Words can kill. I found myself weeping for them and their loss. It bolstered me to fight even the silly "Loser!" remarks so prevalent today.
The proverb "Thoughtless words cut like a sword. But the tongue of wise people brings healing" became literal to me today. Lord, let me be wise.
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