Hey, Tribelet! Welcome to After School Wednesday, where we learn ways to help stop the bullying that makes so many people miserable. Have I ever mentioned here that every day in the United States alone, 160,000 kids stay home from school because they're so afraid of the bullying they experience there? That's a lot of miserable people. In fact, that's more than the population of the TOWN I live in.
It can seem overwhelming, but if every person does one small thing to make life better for someone who's the victim of meanness, there would be a whole lot less of that going on. If you want to be part of our SO Not Okay movement and you haven't joined in yet, just make a comment here that says, "I'm in!" and you are automatically a member of the Tribelet.
Almost every week I explain something you can try, and then I put a challenge out there for you. This week, our topic is teasing. Actually, we're going to talk more about taunting, which is a very real part of bullying. Let's start with the difference between the two.
fun for everybody only "fun" for the person
to make someone feel included to make someone feel bad
to show you love the person to show you think she's even with her faults weird
to make the peerson laugh to make the person cry
Some examples might help:
"Do you ever have a bad hair day?" "Hey, little Miss perfect."
"You want me to lift you up so you "What's up, weird Midget can see over the counter?" Girl?"
The REAL difference isn't as much the words themselves as the tone of voice.
light heavy and hard
like a hug like a punch
with a smile in your voice with a jeering voice
If someone in your group of friends is really tall and she's okay with that and you all admire her height, it's okay to nickname her "Stilts" as long as she genuinely likes it. That's a way of showing her that you love her. It's teasing, but it's the good kind.
If someone (even a friend of yours) is way tall and she's self-conscious about it, it is NOT okay to nickname her "Stilts," or anything else that points to her height. If you (or anyone) says, "Hey Stilts, how's the weather up there?" and she gets tears in her eyes or lashes out, that's taunting. It makes her feel UNloved and even more embarrassed about towering over everybody. And there isn't even anything wrong with being tall -- or short, or round or thin!
So, what's your job now? How do you help put a stop to taunting?
1. Pay attention to the way you and your friends tease each other. Does everybody laugh and have a good time with it? Or do you sense some girls getting sick of it, being hurt by it? Look at the comparison lists above and make sure you aren't on the taunting side. If so, stop and apologize and make a vow not to do it again. Help your friends see that this isn't fun any more.
2. If you see other kids taunting people, step up. Here's how:
* take the person who is being taunted aside and assure him or her that the words aren't true -- that taunting says nothing about them and everything about the people doing it
* explain to the person being taunted that the best thing to do is say, "Really? I thought you were better than that," and walk away. This is one time when it's okay to roll their eyes!
* tell them not to taunt back. That only makes things worse. Besides, why lower themselves?
* if the person being taunted can't stand up for herself, do it for her until she can, by following the same guidelines
Taunting is really harmful. As Tori and the Triblet learn in So Not Okay, "Stick and stones can break my bones, but words can break my heart." Don't break anybody's heart and don't stand by while other people do it.
If you want to post a comment in the next two weeks (no After School Wednesday post next week) tell us about the taunting you've seen (and maybe done yourself before this) and share what you're doing about it.
One thing you can be sure of: you will never be taunted here. After all, we're a Tribelet!