I think all of us have some bullying incident in our past.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s come to be believed that it’s a rite of passage to adulthood. Literature and films focus on bullying as formative events in a youth’s life.
Schools claim a “no tolerance” rule. But the authorities can’t possibly know all the clever bullying tactics that occur. Bullies know when their target is alone and that their victim has no power.
Even though we homeschool, we have encountered bullies at homeschool activities or at public parks.
Children who were bullies grow up to be adults who are bullies.
They might be more clever in their tactics, but they’re still bullies.
Mean girls grow up to be mean women.
In seventh grade, I was terrorized by one popular girl.
My particular bully was named Lauren.
For whatever reason, Lauren targeted me for months.
I remember she was in at least two of my classes – math and chorus. I already hated math, and she made chorus difficult to enjoy.
She publicly ridiculed me.
She criticized my hair and clothes.
She threatened me.
She informed me that I should not wear a particular shirt to school ever again. (I did anyway.)
She made fun of my voice and that I didn’t get a solo for the chorus concert.
She encouraged her gang of girls to make fun of me and laugh at me.
She stole my house key out of my purse during math class.
My classmates and parents and teachers and school administrators?
They did nothing.
Her mother was a State Representative.
I walked home from the bus stop and sat on my front stoop until my parents got home from work for a whole week until she decided to give me back my house key.
It was just a game to her.
So, what did I learn at the age of thirteen from being bullied?
That the authorities would not protect me.
People with money or powerful connections get away with crimes and injustices.
I was all alone.
Lauren eventually found another target and left me alone.
We attended different high schools.
But I never forgot.
I’ve encountered many bullies as an adult.
Parents who didn’t like the grades their children earned in my class.
Principals who changed grades for students whose parents had political power in the district.
Officers’ wives who threw their husband’s rank around like it should strike fear in me if I didn’t acquiesce to their every whim.
Parents and teachers who set arbitrary rules to exclude the kids they don’t want joining the activity.
Moms who won’t parent their child and feel angry that I refuse to let my kids associate with the child. I wrote about a particular mom who guilted my daughter to get to me.
I totally had a junior high moment at the pool today.
I was in the locker room, helping my kids get changed into their clothes after we had been swimming.
This mom came up behind me with her young son.
She told me my stuff was in front of her locker.
I apologized and turned to move my bag.
Apparently, I wasn’t fast enough for her.
She just opened the locker and shoved my stuff onto the floor!
I scrambled to pick up our clothes before they got all wet.
She got their shoes, slammed the locker, turned, and left.
I was just stunned.
I didn’t even look up.
I was thirteen again.
Did I mention I was wearing a towel?
Of course I thought of everything I would have liked to say and do after she left.
I wonder what that woman was like in seventh grade.
I wonder what her son is like to his peers.
I won’t apologize to bullies.
If you were bullied when you were younger, the reason you freeze at genuine compliments is because fake compliments were a prelude to an attack.
I have the right to wear any shirt I want. I have a right to be friends with whomever I please. I can sit wherever I want in a public place. I don’t care what you think and you have no power over me.
Bullies are mean because they are hurting and they lash out.
For 25 years, I have lived with the bitterness of the bullying in seventh grade.
I forgive you, Lauren.
Wow, this could have been written by me! I know every thought you mentioned from the Officers’ wives throwing rank to adults saying something horribly mean. And when I feel bullied even now, I feel like I am back to my younger years as well. I had a bully from age 4th grade on through 8th grade. Then I had new bullies. I was very timid and I never stood up for myself. My bully in elementary school pushed me down a flight of outdoor metal stairs when it was raining. I laid crippled at the bottom with a very bruised back. The school did nothing. It was a Christian school. This girl tormented me and I had to change schools. When I did change, I ended up with new bullies. Ironically, I’ve run in to some of these mean girls as adults and they have not changed. Thank you for sharing your experience.
How unfortunate that we’ve had to live like that. I was threatened in high school and the whole situation escalated until the authorities had to get involved. The girl finally apologized that it was a misunderstanding. But what kind of mentality is it that jumps to threats physical harm instead of a simple question?
The Natural Homeschool says
This strikes a chord. I could’ve written this, except my bully never found someone else to target. Nine years of that is a long time and it can really kill one’s spirit. You forgive, but you don’t forget. I can now spot a bully 10 miles away. It’s sad that you are right: bullies do grow up to be grown bullies. : (
yes, we learned how to spot em for sure. So sad that some are still bullies and haven’t grown out of that.
I had 1 bully for a few months when I was a freshman in high school, the girl was a junior and her boyfriend had been a friend of mine for years. She didn’t like that we were friends and threatened me, that if I even looked at him, she was going to physically hurt me. When my friend asked me why I had quit talking to him, I told him everything. He didn’t break up with her, but she did stop bullying me, but by then I’d already told her if she touched me I was going to the police. After dealing with her, I honestly gained a great deal of confidence and refused to let anyone ever attempt to control my life like that again.
My husband is now retired from the Army, 2 years before he retired an officer wife (we were enlisted, but that never really mattered since I have always had friends on both sides), but a wife decided she didn’t like that my kids played outside during the day during school hours and attempted to threaten me. It did not go over well for her, and after that she avoided me. I think honestly, it was the first time anyone had ever stood up to her, because she was infamous for being a bully and because of her husband’s rank, most people seemed to cower to her, but I refused.
What I have found, especially with adult bullies, is that when you stand up to them, they back off, I know that doesn’t always happen, but I think most of the time it does.
Great blog post!
BTW…I’m also a homeschooling Christian momma, who also was not raised going to church. So thankful I came to the Lord and am raising my children to know Him! They will be so much further in their walk with Him, as adults than I ever will be!!
Oh, I could write and write and write all the instance officer’s wives threatened and tried to ruin our lives when we lived in Hawaii. such sad women. Bullies are obviously broken people.
Brandi Clevinger says
Unfortunately, you are right about it being some sort of passage into adulthood. My husband and I have both been victims of bullies, and it has made us more alert. We need to recognize the signs because, like my husband and I, kids don’t always speak up about it.
Thank you for sharing your article at Inspire Me Mondays!
This post was one of my two favorite posts at this week’s blog hop. It has been pinned to the group board Inspire Me Mondays at http://www.Pinterest.com/beingfibromom and it will be featured on my site during Monday’s blog hop at http://www.beingfibromom.com
i couldn’t agree more. Everyone has felt small and helpless at some point in their life. I remember in middle school (7th grade I think) I saw some girls in my class selling drugs, all kinds, and they were trying to get me to give them my lunch money. I told my mom who told the principal and the principal told her to tell me to keep my mouth shut because if the girls knew I was telling on them they would hurt me. My mom was shocked but she worked full time and money was tight so public school was our only option. I learned a lot that day.
That’s so sad and ridiculous. Schools choose which battles they fight and it’s not at all safe sometimes.
Thank you for sharing your heart and scars Jennifer! Bullies seem to be drawn to me… and my son… as well… more into adulthood than I remember from my own childhood. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been learning about boundaries and how to speak up for myself and my son (teaching him too). And the best thing I’ve learned… good people don’t go around trying to hurt other people. Only the evil hearted people of this world do that! Hurting people hurt people. Not an excuse. But we can feel for them and the hurt in their heart that they have to pick on people like you… and me and my son. (((HUGS)))
Yes, boundaries are important. I like that series of books too. Bullies are hurting and we can pray for them, but protect ourselves and children too.