05 June 2009

Bullying

My attention was drawn to a peculiar interaction on Tuesday.

As I passed the splash pad where our Mom&Me group meets, a boy of 10 or 11 years ran out in the street. It is the size of a typical neighborhood thru-street with the standard two lanes, so the traffic is somewhere between calm and busy. School had just released so traffic was on the heavier side.

The boy looked desperate to cross quickly. So quickly, in fact, that he did not use common sense, running in front of a delivery truck. The child tried balancing himself on the thin yellow lane divider between my truck and a delivery truck, but stumbled forward. Nothing came of the incident other than a shock to my nerves and hopefully a shock to his as well.

Continuing my drive, my heart raced as I uttered a prayer of thanks that there was a tolerable song on the radio (and I didn't need to glance down for that split second to make a change).

As I drove forward, I spotted another boy about the same age. He was sprinting, looking back frequently, with apparent terror in his eyes. When I glanced to see what he was focusing on so intently, Mr. Danger Boy himself was chasing him, appearing nothing short of contemptuous.

I drove further along, but felt terribly uncomfortable with the situation and turned around after about 5 seconds. By the time I reached the boys and could observe for a few moments, they were crossing a field a few feet apart. Their body language implied friendship so I started heading home.

Nothing happened as far as I can tell. But as I was prompted to turn around and check on the boys, I couldn't help but wonder what I was going to do if Danger was bullying him. Would I stop them? Call the school? Call the police? Do nothing?

I didn't know what to do, but I did know I was supposed to turn around and make sure they were okay.  I'm not sure how I would have helped either child had something gone awry and I'm grateful all was apparently well.

This has forced me to think:
What is appropriate in bullying situations? Do you stop them? Will that make it worse later for the child being bullied? What if the children were 5-years-old  instead of 10? Does that change anything? What if they were 16-years-old?

I'm just not sure. What are your thoughts?

3 comments:

Kali said...

Bullying is one of the most serious problems in the school setting. In my experience the one initiating the bullying needs to experience consequences as soon as the problem is realized. It is best when the one being the bully is caught. When the one being bullied has to be the one to tell it can sometimes escalate the bullying. So yes when you catch it definitely stop them. And it doesn't matter what age. Bullying starts so young. When parents don't deal with it at young ages I think that is why it becomes a big problem when middle school arrives. At the school district I taught at in Utah students were suspended when they were involved with bullying issues. It was a very big deal.

If my kid was being chased by a bully I so wish there would be someone like you to stop it! Bullying is one of the most damaging things to kids as they are developing their identity, confidence etc.

Sarah said...

I really hate those situations! I would have totally broke it up if the kids were fighting though, no matter what age they were! Whenever I have been in those situations I at least make it known to the kids that I am watching and then threatened to call the cops if needed! There was one time when I drove past two grown men fighting, literally trying to punch each other out, and I just slightly rolled down my car window and yelled out at them that I was calling the cops. They stopped right after that and left. Seeing those things happen really leaves you with such an awful feeling though, doesn't it?

elopingcamel said...

Watch the movie Big Bully. That will solve it, or at least give you some good ideas.