The period when I was about 7 to 12 years old, I had to deal with bullies quite a bit. We moved often, usually in and out of questionable neighborhoods where I was not only the new kid, but the skinny, meek looking, new kid. I was the perfect target for neighborhood bullies trying to build their reputation for toughness. Being very cautious, I didn’t get beat up very often. I stayed indoors more than I should have, and when I ventured out I would peek around each corner, very carefully, to see if any bad guys were out there.
Avoidance is very effective when trying to avert trouble, but it is not a very good tool for self-esteem. Not confronting your problems can make you feel small. So while I would hide and run when I saw them first, I would not run if cornered. Usually the bullies where I lived worked in pairs. When caught, I would try to stumble and mumble my way out with words. It worked sometimes because, while acting tough, they were cowards themselves. They didn’t always want to fight, they just wanted to be in charge of the situation.
One Saturday afternoon when I was 12, I came across a couple of young punks about my age under a highway viaduct. I had found a rapid transit bus flag and they wanted to take it from me. I refused because I couldn’t be a coward in front of them (as mentioned, I would have run like the wind had I saw them first). This time, it turned out one of the two guys really did like to fight. I found out why, later.
It just so happened my Dad saw this confrontation from a distance. It was one of the few times as a kid that he was around. I thought he was going to chase the bad guys away, but astonishingly to me, he said that only one of them could fight me at a time. I didn’t want to fight at all! To make a long story short, one kid was some kind of boxing ‘gym rat’. He had skills! He was really easy on me at first with my Dad there, but when I hit him in the jaw, he got mad and started pounding me. My Dad stepped in and stopped the fight. The two kids ran off and my Dad took me home.
I had a swollen eye and bloody nose and mouth. My Mom was furious that my Dad allowed this to happen! He probably did the wrong thing, especially in today’s world, but he made me face my fear and even though I lost, I felt good about that. I also felt a little closer to my Dad that day. However, it would have been better had he talked to me about handling this type of situation in advance, or taught me some self-defense.
Where to find help on bullying:
· What does it say about the parents of kids who bully other kids? See: Teaching Kids Not to Bully
· What does it say about the parents of kids who get bullied? Bully Proof Your Child
· What does it say about kids who stand-by and say nothing when they see bullying?
The victims of bullying can have any number of consequences. Self-esteem can be damaged, fear can limit them, and even their health can be affected. See: Bullying May Have Lasting Health Effect on Kids
Let’s talk to our children about bullying and get their take on it. Let’s stop bullying in schools, in neighborhoods, in the office, in life! see: Stop Bullying