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Author Topic: Bullying  (Read 1112 times)

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Offline AgnesNitt

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Bullying
« on: March 01, 2012, 09:06:22 PM »
I wrote the item below for my blog. But it doesn't fit into an adult skater blog. I've had a lot of experience with bullies and I have my own techniques for dealing with them (of course I was dealing with bullies in the military so not skater specific). I really believe kids need to be trained to deal with bullies rather than be coddled by parents. So I took a stab at converting my bully beating skills into something a kid could use.

PS This has a problem of shifting between Parental POV and Kid POV. I never got around to fixing that.

-----------------
As a short woman in the military I probably was bullied quite a bit. I say 'probably' because I fought back.  I was born with a WTFO attitude and since (for girls) bullying in my day never seemed to mean physical violence, I used my temper and my wit to fight back.  Let me put it nicely, no one ever crossed me twice. (I was once bullied by a Colonel when I was a 2nd Lt. I fought back in a really sneaky way, and won. Trust me, you don't have to tolerate this stuff, you have to know how to fight it.)



So, what happens with kids who are bullied? Sad to say, in my experience bullying is part of the social order of humanity. Someone will almost always be bullied. Any adults who step in and try to straighten things out between kids are almost always doomed to fail. I don't think we put enough skills in the hands of vulnerable kids to fight back.



I'm going to make some opinions here, these are things I learned over a long life in an 'unfriendly' environment. Brace yourself I'm going to use language from 40 years ago.



1. You can't make 'them' like you.  Kids want to be in the 'in group'. The terminology has changed but the idea is still there. For someone to be on the inside, someone has to be on the outside. Once the inside kids have decided to pick on someone,  no outside interference can change them. Outside oversight will just make it go underground. Telling the vulnerable kid that she is on the outside  of this group forever, not because she did anything wrong, but because someone has to be on the outside, can be both devastating--and freeing. If they'll never like you, because making themselves feel important means not liking someone, then it's not your fault. You can move on with your life and stop trying to make them like you.



2. If you can't make them like you, ignore them. The mean girls only win only if their jibes and petty cruelties result in visible reactions.  The first thing to get a child to do is practice their reactions to the kinds of things a bully would say and do. If this means as a parent you have to sit down with a child and train them to respond by desensitizing them to the bullying words, you need to toughen up yourself and your kid.  Telling a kid 'it's going to be okay' is a lie. It's not going to be okay. It's going to be bad and you and your child need to learn how to fight back. First rule, don't run away and cry. Fight back by looking bored. The rolling of the eyes is another weapon. Also witty comments, but alas most people never get these. I think witty comments are for someone older than 13. But you can train a younger kid to look bored or annoyed rather than unhappy.


3. Develop some canned verbal responses for the child to show their contempt for the bullies. Some ideas:

You again?; Show some class, willya.; Whatever. ; So, how's that axel coming? (to a bully who doesn't have one);  Oh, grow up. ; What are you? Five? (to a teen); You've confused me with someone who cares what you think.  The secret is to have practiced these ripostes until they're automatic and carry the  appropriate tone of disdain.  Use whatever teen speak you can, but it has to have the tone of arrogance and self-assurance.



4. Toughen up, Buttercup. I talked about self-assurance and that's very important. If the bullies see that their attempts fail, they'll pick another victim. Mind you, bullying's a habit; I don't think it ever goes away, but it can get less. Teaching a young child how to exhibit self assurance is hard. There's a certain quality of stance (don't hunch) and head position (don't look down), even the slow way you turn your head to look at someone who is annoying you that just signals self assurance.   I think you can teach 'don't hunch' and 'don't look down', as those are just part of good skating. But that look in the eye, the way you turn your head. That has to come from within. But it can be developed with practice with a parent.

5. Always have good manners. If the bully wins  a competition, lands a difficult jump, or passes a test, a brisk "Well done," type of compliment in passing can really throw them off their game. Don't use it as a conversational intro, make sure it's short and done while you're moving so you maintain control of the conversation. If the bully shouts something back--a thank you or a rude comment--just give a polite wave and keep moving. Be polite, but be in control.

6. If the bully wants to talk to you, maintain control of the conversation. Don't let them draw you in. Mean girls/boys don't change their minds about their victims.  Stay out of their physical reach if you can. Keep your responses polite but non-committal. In other words, be nice, but don't say anything important. (Parents, you may need to practice this with your kids.) Don't go into confined places alone with the bullies, if you can avoid it. If you have to be in a dressing room with the bullies, make sure you take a seat near the door and away from the center of the group. Keep your back to the wall if you can.

5. Physical violence. If I've done my job here, you'll see the bullying deescalate for your child and be pointed at somewhere else.  If it gets to violence--deliberate violence--use your best judgment. Yes, you can call the cops if need be.

6. If the other coach is the problem. Beats me. Ask the skating director to mediate. If that doesn't work, go to the rink manager. Be calm, be cool. 
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/     
I also have a comic weight loss blog. http://icesk8dance.tumblr.com

Offline karne

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2012, 07:48:37 AM »
I like it.

I was bullied mercilessly in primary school. Endlessly. It wasn't until years later that I understood why - I was smart and bookish. The girls who were bullying me were vapid and empty-headed. It was demoralising, it was horrible. I didn't want to go to school. I'd hide in the library every lunchtime, alone and friendless. The books were my friends. (Our library had Asterix and Obelix books!  :D)

My parents tried everything - they tried getting the school involved (the teachers didn't want to know), they tried to get me to ignore it (hard when they snatch the beanie straight off your head), they tried putting me on the waiting list for a smaller primary school, they investigated their options of putting us into private school (not possible, not enough money).

The only thing that worked, in the end, was my dad got a job in Wagga Wagga, a much smaller city in the country. I went to a primary school with 250 kids. Coming from a primary school with 500, that was a massive difference. I felt like I got more attention from the teacher, I was top of the class, I was praised and got some positive attention. Even when I came last in all my races at the swimming carnival, no-one was mean. It was a massive confidence boost, and when we returned to the city a year later, and the bullies tried to start again, I could get out the sarcasm and ward them off.


But anyway, my point was, having been there, I understand the blog post and agree with it completely.  ;)
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Offline kck

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2012, 06:56:59 AM »
Being a larger guy, I dealt with bullies myself growing up.

When I was 8, the location both my parents worked at closed down, and they got transfered from a large city -- to more of a rural setting. I was now the new kid. When I first moved out to this unfamiliar place, I was shocked. In all honesty, I moved here in top physical shape. I had used to play on basketball teams, baseball teams, was into karate, ice skated... Then I moved out here.

The bullying and being an outcast made making friends hard -- But overtime I learned that they would never change, so naturally I used my intelligence to beat them down. I got beat up a lot, and got cursed at a lot [Imagine my parents surprise when their 8 year old son came home from school and asked what the other 2nd graders meant by the word N*****].. But, not having friends and being an outcast makes it hard to play basketball or baseball.

Overtime I stopped playing games and getting excersize, and started to gain weight. This just amplified the bullying. I must say -- the things you said, were essentially what I used to get through it. I'm still a big guy, but I'm working on that. But bullying does have a major effect on people when they are the outsiders. For me, I went from having 4 friends, to zero when I went from Jr. High to High School -- My own friends turned on me and said I was a loser.

Now, it doesn't take a genius to figure out who won in all of this (we're all around 23 years old): One kid is currently unemployed (and bigger than me now); the second one has a wife and a kid, and no job; the third one is currently working as a correctional officer making a little over $9, and the last one -- Well, he was homeless for a little while after he decided to go be a rock star in Alaska [I gave him the money to fly home, so he's back living with his mom]. And I'm making over $15/hour full time. I guess sometimes if you fight past the bullies, it pays off.

EDIT :: Upon reflection, the 4th friend actually was someone I met later during high school who I felt out of contact with, so I corrected it with the guy who was my first friend when I moved out here, who went along with the other 3 in saying I was a loser.


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Offline drskater

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2012, 10:13:55 AM »
Wow!

Agnes, you mention that the topic of bullying isn't appropriate for your adult skater blog. I beg to differ. At my former rink I had to deal with three vile crayzees, a couple of skating moms and a hockey Dad, who were terrible bullies. These whack-jobs bullied fellow parents, coaches, the rink manager, and skaters of every age. Honestly, they scared people away from the rink. Most of us just tried to ignore them, growing ever-resentful in the process.

We got rid of them. We set a trap, and they were too self-absorbed/stupid to realize it. It's a lovely story. PM me if you'd like to hear the sordid details. It would make a great blog topic!!

Offline falen

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #4 on: March 11, 2012, 04:11:02 PM »
this is great!  I love the way you explained the psychology behind it.

I was bullied up till 8 grade.  I indavertenly got the bored eyeroll thing at some point in summer before highschool.  In high school it started and soon stopped.  Was never friends with the former bullies but they left me alone.  It could have been the bored eyeroll look.  At one point in high school on the public transportation I did it to a dumb a$$ who wanted my seat and he just backed away.  My classmate said I gave him the look of death. 

Offline lilicedreamer

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #5 on: March 11, 2012, 06:20:11 PM »
I like the post and the concepts behind beating a bully at their own game by using social tactics such as non responsiveness, or pure scorn.  Sadly, some bullies never outgrow it.  I was beaten and bullied by a girl from 5th grade onward.  In 7th rade she got her friends to beat up after school.  Not one administrator ever helped me get through this.  I'm white, she's black, and she falsely claimed that I'd slung racial epithets at her.  Fast forward to adulthood:  I saw her at the hospital where she works as a nurse and chatted politely for a minute while in line at the cafeteria.  I noticed that she had her fist clenched as if she wanted to beat me again.  We were both in our mid forties.  I quickly moved on.  There must be something wrong with her!  I moved away from that city and hope and pray I never wind up in any hospital she works at.

Strange incident, and I really don't understand her...but I feel it's jealousy pure and simple.

Offline AgnesNitt

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #6 on: March 11, 2012, 07:32:36 PM »
I like the post and the concepts behind beating a bully at their own game by using social tactics such as non responsiveness, or pure scorn.  Sadly, some bullies never outgrow it.  I was beaten and bullied by a girl from 5th grade onward.  In 7th rade she got her friends to beat up after school.  Not one administrator ever helped me get through this.  I'm white, she's black, and she falsely claimed that I'd slung racial epithets at her.  Fast forward to adulthood:  I saw her at the hospital where she works as a nurse and chatted politely for a minute while in line at the cafeteria.  I noticed that she had her fist clenched as if she wanted to beat me again.  We were both in our mid forties.  I quickly moved on.  There must be something wrong with her!  I moved away from that city and hope and pray I never wind up in any hospital she works at.

Strange incident, and I really don't understand her...but I feel it's jealousy pure and simple.

Psychopaths and compulsive liars are tricky to deal with. I had to deal with one who was trying to destroy me professionally because I was doing better than she was, and I won, but it was a really unpleasant experience. In the end my experience with psychopaths and compulsive liars is that their stories get more and more complex and they eventually trip themselves because they're so self centered. I was smart enough to catch her out and professionally survive, but it was close.
Yes I'm in with the 90's. I have a skating blog. http://icedoesntcare.blogspot.com/     
I also have a comic weight loss blog. http://icesk8dance.tumblr.com

Offline bollyskater

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2012, 01:55:00 AM »
I like everything AgnesNitt says above, especially since you can only really control how you react to a situation and not anyone else's behavior. However, more awareness on everyone's part would bring more change than laying the burden of change entirely on the target.

In my experience, bullies rarely make sense. If they were able to think more clearly, they'd be able to reach out and get attention from people without hurting them.

To me, there are several parties involved in bullying:

The bully. They are responsible for their own words and actions. What they are doing is wrong. In many cases, it's also illegal.

The target. Anyone can be a target of bullying, and it takes a very strong person to disagree with the bully's assertions that the problem is "you." (See agnesnitt's post above.) Also, getting help is a good skill to learn. You may need to approach a few people before you're taken seriously enough, unfortunately. A target may start off with good self esteem but extended abuse can damage that.

The bully's family. Bullying is a learned behavior, whether it's from a sibling, parent or other older relative. Parents who turn a blind eye to their children's behavior are not doing anyone a favor. At some point, the bully probably was a target, too.

The target's family. Ignoring warning signs of being bullied compounds the problem by allowing the person suffering to think it's unique to them. If bringing it up is awkward, perhaps you can watch a movie in which there are bullies and targets and discuss how you both feel about the characters.

The community members who know but look the other way. By witnessing it and not speaking up, you are condoning it. It is not a normal part of life that the target needs to learn to cope with. You can come to target's defense, if it's safe, or tell a person in a position of authority.

The community/school/rink. There need to be clear zero-tolerance policies in place that include things like a safe way to let authorities know; immediate notification of parents; a fair investigation; anti-bullying training for the target, bullies and classmates; and consequences for serious offenses. There's nothing more frustrating than a "system" that doesn't care about behavior that would not be tolerated anywhere else.

Anyhow, here are some resources on the Web that might be helpful:
http://www.stopbullying.gov/topics/warning_signs/index.html
http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20574991,00.html
http://www.stopbullying.gov/topics/what_is_bullying/test_your_knowledge/index.html

Offline bollyskater

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2012, 09:16:27 PM »
I hope my list above hasn't shut down the conversation.

Having been bullied for many years as a kid and even at work as an adult, I appreciate the things AgnesNitt suggests because the situation can change dramatically when you respond differently to it. The more I refuse to believe things people say are true about me, the better they treat me. It's a weird but true equation.

I just feel that removing one's self from the vicious cycle of bullying isn't going far enough, particularly when there are adults in authority who are aware of it. There needs to be a mental shift among everyone who thinks this is just the way it is, whether it's a no-tolerance policy or a concerted effort to reach out to outcasts and bullies. There has to be more to a solution than helping the targets figure a way out on their own.

----

There's a new documentary coming out Mar. 30 called "Bully." The tagline says that 13 million kids will be bullied in the U.S. this year. That's a good reason not to leave it up to individuals to learn how to defend themselves. The movie got an R rating because of the violence and language, which is silly because this is the violence and language kids put up with every day. A number of celebrities and others lobbied to have it rated PG, and it eventually was. Here's coverage on MSNBC:
http://video.msnbc.msn.com/nightly-news/46693947#46693947

Offline lilicedreamer

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Re: Bullying
« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2012, 10:02:56 AM »
In response to AgnesNitt, I think you should remember that this woman is now a nurse in a major hospital.  She'd likely have been fired or simply gotten rid of if she was a pathological liar or psychopath.  Over time that's really hard to hide, you can't keep track of lies that easily, you know?  This might be a really bad case of girl jealousy.  I got my teachers involved in the fifth grade incident and my dad spoke with her, and she said that she had no daddy.  I don't think that was true, but this was fifth grade and it takes some children a while to learn to tell the truth.  Children are often fanciful!  But yes, it was a strange incident and I really don't want to be put in a confrontational mode with her.  It would be to both our detriments.