Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bully for you

This past week, a co-worker of mine was talking about a case of bullying involving her daughter. Her daughter was not the bully but the victim, and when her mother approached the teacher and then the principal about the situation and steps to take to stop the bullying, it was suggested that her daughter change schools since she was not officially in the proper school zone.

I did a double-take, especially because that particular school had instituted a bully-free policy - bullying was not to be tolerated at any time and any perpetrator would be dealt with accordingly. Their solution for my co-worker's daughter to change schools, especially when the problem lies elsewhere was disgusting. Wrong. Unjust.

It also reminded me of another time, two years ago, when one of our suppliers shared the devestating news that his 16-year-old son was in a coma, brought on a beating he endured at the hands of his peers. After weeks of hanging on, attached to machines to help him breathe, he succumed to his injuries, injuries brought on by his peers.

Drew Hildebrand died because his peers thought it was cool, funny or empowering to beat him within an inch of his life, an inch that left a major concussion, bleeding on the brain and death.

Maybe I was a little naive when I was growing up. I didn't witness a lot of bullying and certainly not to the degree that exists today. Sure, there were spats and cliques that didn't get along with other cliques. I'm sure there were rumours started and barbs thrown, but as far as I knew it stopped short of a physical fight.

Others may disagree. All I know is that it didn't happen to me. The worst I got was once when I was mistaken for a boy when picking teams in a Winterlude Sports Day. I thought my boobs said it all, but I guess I was androgenous enough to cast a little doubt. I did have friends who were taunted when walking home from school, and I was always the protector, ever the protector, trying to shield them from the bullies. Did I do a good job? I'm not entirely sure, especially because the taunting continued until the girls lost interest or found a new scapegoat, but I would protect the next victim with equal vigour.

This June, I will be walking in a charity walk/run for the Drew Hildebrand Teen Benefit charity, established by Drew's parents and friends. Drew had had a rough start in school, in fitting in, like most teens, but just as he was turning that all around, he was taken, his full potential never realized.

But, thanks to his parents, friends and everyone who supports the charity, Drew's legacy still lives on, his potential in abundance. I will be proud to walk that day, and may even manage the 5K run, looking to amp up my own potential, physical or spiritual.

As for today's school system, in particular the one suggesting a changing of schools as a viable anti-bullying technique, I say shame on you.

For information on the Drew Hildebrand Turnaround Teen charity, please feel free to click on this link.


  1. The school attitude is shocking but I don't think bullying is on the increase, just more reported.

    Good for you defending your schoolfriends though

  2. I was in junior high some 18 years ago....and was once surrounded by a group of girls and given a black eye.....in the bus parking lot. I have NO tolerance today as an adult for any type of bullying. I would be afraid of my reaction were this my child and the school suggested I should have her change schools.

    Apparently I needed a friend like you in school! lol Good for you for standing up to the dinks who were bullying your friends.


    Tell her to call her local news station. That is a story they would LOVE to do.

  4. Dammit. Libby always beats me to it. What she said. Does the school not realize that once the victim moves, the bully will find a new target. So- oops- problem not solved.

  5. They make these policies to look good. The attitudes of schools towards bullying are no different now than they were before. If a kid was bullying one of my kids, I would be raising such a stink they'd deal with it just to shut me up. Of course, I might go by the bullies house and beat on their parents, just for effect.

  6. Sounds like we were similar at school. I was the protector and the day it finally happened to me I had no one courageous enough to take my side. Remember running home and finally crying on my Dad's lap. Didn't last forever though.
    I have had to intervene for my own daughter once. She came home a few times crying about a group of 3 girls in her class and I had suggested several ways she could cope with the situation without wanting to get involved. Until the day I arrived at school early and surprised the three in the act of using standover tactics on Azzy and caught that familiar look of panic and hurt and fear on her face. One of the girls was the daughter of the municipal police officer of the village too. Anyway I jumped on the 3 of them and suggested that they must be very proud of their behaviour and I wanted to use them as an example for the whole school and their parents to see. I also asked the police officer's child to go and ask the official meaning of harrassment (helps when you know their mothers). I managed to keep the words nice but the glaring eyes and menacing tone were enough that time. It sent them looking for other victims. Easy when your kids are still only 9 and 10. We will see if it works when they are older. Although I hope I won't have to try...
    I used to believe in only peaceful solutions. Until I met my husband and he told me his reason for selling military aircraft was to keep the peace rather than start wars. It's nice to tell bullies that you're peaceful and anti violence. They think it's just perfect for taking over your country. Sometimes you have to fight fire with slightly more intelligent fire... Have a great walk/run. I'll be championing your cause and sending prayers to your friend...