Hellooo, Tribelet, and welcome to After School Wednesday. I want to give a special shout-out to MEGGIEBEAR, who has just joined the Tribelet, and to BOO685 who gave us a TON of encouragement with her comment. I've asked her if she wants to share more of her story of being bullied and coming out stronger. That's what we're all about here, right, Tribelet?
I've been taking your bullying questions one by one and offering the best help I can. Today, let's take a look at this one which came up SEVERAL times and which gets asked every time I work with kids.
"People tell me to ignore kids who bully me, but it doesn't WORK!"
You're right. It doesn't.
That's because it makes no sense. We tell those of you who aren't bullied but who see it happening not to just stand by and watch or ignore it, but to get in there and do what you can to change things. "Be strong!" we grown-ups tell you. "Fight for the dignity of every human being!"
And then we turn around and tell the girl who's being bullied to ignore it.
Really? Does that even compute in your brain?
That tells the girl who is suffering at the hands of her peers that she isn't as powerful as the people who are told to stand up for her. We want her to take back the power to be herself, but then we make it sound like she can't really do that. Other people have to do it for her.
Uh, how about NO!
And besides all that, it really doesn't change the situation. Let's take an example.
Susie Schmo thinks she's all that and she wants everyone else to think that too. Just to make sure they do, she looks for people to put down, making her look higher.
One of her prime targets is Debbie Doe. Susie tells Debbie how fat she is in front of the entire cafeteria full of kids. She grabs her backpack and dumps it into the trash can every chance she gets. She even gives Debbie the occasional shove when she's sure there are no teachers around. It's gotten to the point where Debbie doesn't even want to go to school.
Debbie's parents tell her to "just ignore her and she'll go away." She's actually tried it. But (a) it's hard to "just ignore" someone who has shoved your math homework into a garbage can full of banana peels and half-eaten sandwiches. And (b) when Debbie does pretend Susie isn't there calling her Chubbo in the lunchroom, Susie just tries harder to get Debbie to respond. She even says, "Don't think you can ignore me. I'm not going away."
It seems to Debbie that there's nothing she can do. She's so depressed she gets stomach aches and wants to throw up just thinking about running into Susie in the halls.
What CAN Debbie do?
Here's what I've learned:
1. There is a difference between "ignoring" and just "not engaging." Ignoring means you pretend the person isn't there, which only makes her try harder to be sure you know she is! Not engaging means you look her in the eye and say, "Say what you want, but I'm not going there with you." And then you turn and walk away -- or get away from her at your first possible opportunity. That lets her know you're aware of her behavior but it isn't getting to you. You'll have to be an actress at first, but eventually it will become natural to you.
2. This is where your one-liner comes in. These are some good ones you're welcome to use:
* Really? Come on, you're better than that.
* Listen, say or do whatever you want, but you don't have any power over me.
* Y'know, this kind of stuff says way more about you than it does about me. Just sayin.
3. Not engaging means:
* Don't give back to her (or him) what she's giving you.
* Don't put her down.
* Don't let her see that she's upsetting you (Save The Tears, remember?)
* Don't say, "I'm telling Mrs. So and So," but if you're being physically harmed or threatened, or the bullying is interfering with your learning or your freedom -- DO go inform Mrs. So and So. That's a Report Alert, right?
Remember most of all that you aren't out to change the bully -- you're working on changing yourself. But here's the deal: when you take back the power to be exactly who you are, you're less of a target for bullies. They might try harder at first ... yet when they stop getting the satisfaction of being in control of you, they WILL stop.
Yeah, you have to be strong. That's where talking to God is absolutely key. And, as BOO685 said, we do have your back here.
So share with us. Tell us about a time when ignoring didn't help -- or a situation where you did walk away instead of engaging. Best yet, tell us about a bullying issue you have right now where you might just be able to dis-engage -- even if it's with your siblings - or help someone else do it. THAT is the work of the Tribelet.