ANA KYLIE SARA SARAH NIMI ANYA WENDY and EVE
If you have ever responded with "I'm in!" to an After School Wednesday post and I haven't welcomed you individually here on the blog, let me know and I'll make that happen. We appreciate every single one of you and want you all to feel, well, "in!"
Last time I posted for ASW (January 7) I asked you to comment with your biggest questions about bullying and you gave a TON of responses. (You can still do that if you want to. Questions are ALWAYS welcome ) Now I know exactly how to help you with the specific things you're dealing with.
Let's start with a question both WENDY and HADASSAH brought up: How do I get some girls to stop making fun of people and calling them names? I TELL them to stop, but they just keep doing it.
That's a fabulous question. In the So Not Okay Anti-Bullying Campaign we ask people to pledge to respect the dignity of every human being and stand up for those who are being put down. But how can you do that if nobody listens to you?
I have some answers for you, but I want to warn you ahead of time that they might be completely the opposite of what you've been told. I'm not going to say other people are "wrong" with their advice, but I've spent a LOT of time learning about all this, and this is what I know to be true. Ready?
You probably aren't going to change the people who bully. Wait, isn't that the whole POINT? No, not really because we can't change other people. When it comes to bullying, you can only make two changes:
a. you can change how YOU respond to bullying
b. you can make it so there is no one left for mean people TO bully
a. See that meme at the top? You are the master of your own tongue. In You Can't Sit With Us, Ginger, who is the victim of bullying, finally tells the mean girl, Kylie, "I am the mistress of my own tongue, not yours." Ginger learns that she probably can't stop Kylie and her friends from making fun of her, calling her names and putting her down. But she CAN stop answering back. She CAN remember who she is and walk away. She CAN feel really sorry for the RMGs (really mean girls) and pray for them. She CAN find her own friends and get involved in activities that show her she's awesome.
b. So instead of trying to get people to stop saying stupid stuff to hurt other girls' feelings (I mean, really, right? SO lame!), focus on the girl who's the brunt of all that. Show her she's a pretty cool person. Let her know it's the "mean girls" who have the problem, not her. Assure her that you have her back if she needs somebody to go to her locker with her, or the restroom -- if she needs somebody to sit with at lunch -- if she wants to punch somebody in the face and needs to talk about it.
You're going to help her be strong, and when she's confident she won't get picked on. You can help girls stop being victims, one at a time.
Will girls keep saying mean things? Maybe at first. But when they realize that their prey is no longer running scared, they'll deflate.
That is NOT the same as telling the bullied girl to ignore the bullying. That does NOT work. At all. And we're going to talk more about that in another After School Wednesday post. What you ARE doing is helping a victim respond to the bullying in a different way: by showing the bully that what she's saying has no effect on her because she's an awesome mini-woman.
If you want to make a comment on this post, do one or both of these things. This isn't a post where I want you to give each other advice (though sometimes that's okay and good).
1. Try this. If there are girls in your school or church (or family!) who keep making fun of people and won't stop when you tell them to, go to the girl who's being targeted and tell her she's awesome and she shouldn't believe a word. Do whatever you can to let her know THEY are the ones with the problem, not her. Then tell us about it.
2. If this advice doesn't make sense to you or you don't think it's going to work, let us know and we'll talk about it. But will you try it first?
"Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me." (Matthew 25:40)