Bullying – We Are All Guilty

by Susan

I get enraged when I think about the bullying crisis in our schools today.

It is out of control. Completely out of control.

I’m disgusted and furious when I watch the trailer below. But I’m also embarrassed when I think back to my own childhood. Because I wasn’t innocent and likely you weren’t either. All school children are involved in bullying… they might not play the role of “bully” but they’ve all played the role of “bystander” more than once.

The instance in my own life that comes to mind when I think about bullying was in sixth grade at my local public school. Janice and I had just switched to that school in September after attending a private Christian school since first grade.

Several months into the school year, Janice and I were amongst the small inner gang of “popular girls” when I became fed up with the behaviour of our “leader”.

stop bullying

This girl who reigned as the unstated most-popular-girl held the circle of girls in terror as every few weeks she decided to outcast one girl for some number of days.

She led the others making up nasty song lyrics about the ousted girl and ensured nobody talked to her. After several days, she’d settle it down and gradually the girl would become part of the gang again.

The outcasting hadn’t yet happened to Janice nor me (there is power in twos), and I wasn’t necessarily worried that it was going to happen, but I was enraged that she routinely treated her “friends” this way.

Being a bit of a leader myself, I couldn’t stand by and watch this happen. But… I did NOT handle it as I should have.

Not knowing any better, I treated fire with fire. I asked the others why they allowed this to happen when she had no right to bully anyone like that. I suggested we simply do the same thing to her and oust her from the group.

We did. We bullied the bully and it hurt her. Did we teach her the lesson? Maybe. After a few months of excluding her, we gradually let her back in the group after summer break and I never saw her bully anyone again the following year. Did we do it the right way? No, we didn’t.

Without meaning to, I had become a bully and didn’t realize it for years. I still feel guilty about it to this day.

But how could I have known any better?

The fact is parents, teachers, authors, script writers, politicians, and everyone else who has the opportunity to influence children MUST TALK about the problem and the solutions.

Kids cannot be left to solve these problems on their own. They do not know how. I did not know how. You did not know how. Our children DO NOT know how.

We must collectively recognize the crisis of bullying. We must talk about it. We must create solutions. Now. Because lives are being ruined and lives are being ended.

Please throw all your support behind The Bully Project and most importantly start talking to YOUR children about what is happening and how they can be part of the solution.

BullyDid you know that 13 million kids are bullied every year?

This stunning statistic is at the heart of Bully, the new documentary film confronting the bullying crisis in America.

The movie is playing in New York and Los Angeles and opens nationwide on April 13th, and with your support we can make sure the film reaches the kids and communities that need to see it the most.

UPDATE: The DVD release date is Feb 12, 2013.

Here’s an idea…
Purchase a copy, watch it with your kids and then consider donating it to your school’s library or public library so that more parents, teachers and kids watch it.

What About You?

We want to hear about YOUR bullying experiences.

  • Were you bullied as a child?
  • Did you ever bully someone?
  • Do you remember being a bystander and not knowing how to react?
  • Have your children been bullied or bullied?
  • What have you said to your children about bullying?

Please share your stories in the comments below. We must TALK about bullying to stop it.



Email Author    |    Website About Susan

Susan Carraretto and her identical twin, Janice Croze, created 5 Minutes for Mom in 2006. Susan loves all social media, but her top addiction these days is Pinterest. She recently published a children's book titled "The Pest Detectives" which you can download now in digital format for free.

View all articles by

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Lolli April 9, 2012 at 9:29 pm

I also wrote about this same thing today. I was never bullied, and I don’t believe I was a bully….but my husband was bullied and now our son is going through it. It breaks my heart to listen to my sweet 11 year old boy cry and tell me what’s going on at school. And some kids have it so much worse.

Reply

2 Susan April 10, 2012 at 12:49 am

Lolli, it is so difficult and there are no easy answers. I think that one of the most important parts of the solution is helping the bystanders to understand what is going on and how they can help stop it.

We need to raise awareness and help parents and educators know what to say to all the kids: bullies, bullied and bystanders.

The solution can not be just the parents of the bullied trying to help their own children. It takes everyone. And that’s the hardest part.

On Oprah’s Next Chapter when she interviewed Lady Gaga and talked about her new Born To Be Brave foundation, they talked about how Lady Gaga had been bullied and how she is stepping forward to give voice to the bullied. The amazing change in a few of the kids they interviewed who had been inspired by Lady Gaga was unbelievable.

http://www.oprah.com/own-oprahs-next-chapter/What-Lady-Gagas-Mom-Wants-You-to-Know-About-Her-Daughter-Video

Reply

3 Cat Davis April 10, 2012 at 1:45 am

I was on the receiving end from one bully for many years … why? I still don’t really know but it hurt – to the point it still affects my self-esteem to this day.

Knowing what it was like to be on the bad side of a bully, I constantly remind my kids to treat others nicely. Even with my 4 year old, I have to correct her “mean girl” attitude often. :/

Reply

4 Susan April 10, 2012 at 2:27 am

Thank you for sharing your story Cat. I’m so sorry that you had to experience that for so long and have it still affect you.

It’s great that you’re talking to your children about bullying even at their young ages. It’s frustrating how instinctively kids can demonstrate “mean girl” or other bullying behaviour. Humans are so complicated and unfortunately not always good.

I think you raise an important point that all kids – even 4 yr olds – can display “bullying behaviour” and it doesn’t mean they should be labeled “bullies”. As in my story, I never would have considered myself a bully, but I did end up acting as a bully on that occasion and likely several more.

Reply

5 Brandy April 10, 2012 at 10:34 am

I was bullied from the time I was 9 to 18, and still get bullied from time to time now, but not as bad.
I could remember being a teen, and it just being so bad I would have to leave school early just to be able to walk home safe. I only lived a black away. It was so bad at one point I started cutting. I am so thankful those days are over.

Now if my kids come home and tell me they have been picked on or anything I am on top of it immediately, and put a stop to it.

Reply

6 Kristen ~DVC Mom~ April 10, 2012 at 8:16 pm

Thanks so much to everyone for sharing their stories. We can only do something about this horrible crisis if we bring it out of the dark and reteach some basic manner and social skills. It’s not so hard to be kind, but 13 Million American kids rarely get to feel that kindness.

Bullying hits very close to home for us, as it nearly destroyed my youngest daughter before she was even out of elementary school.

You can read my post in support of the Bully Project here:
http://www.dvcmom.com/2012/04/bully-project-and-how-close-it-hits-to.html

Reply

7 DIStherapy April 10, 2012 at 10:59 pm

My son on the autistic spectrum has made near unbelievable gains in every way, but is routinely socially excluded and verbally (and through text messaging) taunted by others at his high school. He is active in a Youth Action Council at his preschool for autistic children, and made this PSA in response: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ufJ4G6Ry21M
He still does not understand some of the social nuances of bullying, but knows enough to speak out…

Reply

8 Jennifer April 11, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Wow, this is the first time I’ve actually seen the trailer for this film. It looks pretty powerful, and hopefully will provide some insight into bullied/bullying behavior to look for in my children’s lives as they grow.

I started talking to my daughter about bullying when she entered kindergarten, but not with the word “bully.” I think it’s important to frame it from a “treat others the way you’d like to be treated” perspective. Even with her younger brother, I ask “Well, how would you feel if someone said/did that to you?” I believe it’s most powerful when you turn it around so that their choices come from a internal motivator, rather than a “I better not do that, or I’m going to get in trouble” one.

Reply

9 Bethany April 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm

I was bullied terribly in middle school (grades 6-8). I was heavy and smart and I liked to read- the oddball. The worst instance I recall was when five girls decided to stab me with a pencil to see if I would pop. It got bad enough that my parents put me in Catholic school for high school. It was better in that no one tried to stab me, but I was still not “in”. I had friends there though so it was cool.

Reply

10 Bethany April 11, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I can’t believe that thirty years later the thought of those girls surrounding me, stabbing me and trying to pop me gives me such anxiety and makes me want to cry.

Not sure what I would do if my kid gets bullied. It probably won’t be pretty.

Reply

11 Jester Queen April 11, 2012 at 10:01 pm

I’ve actually written a post about being bullied. It was one of the first things I hooked up to a meme. (I’m linking below). I never joined a clique, and that made me a natural target for multiple groups. I still reject the notion that cliques are normal. (Groups of friends? Fine. Cliques, nononono). It started in first grade and continued until I left school in tenth grade. I was homeschooled for a year, and then I just went to college. One of my greatest achievements is having an associate’s degree dated two weeks before my high school diploma. (I have two Master’s degrees that sincerely mean less).

http://jesterqueen.com/2011/10/25/in-dreams/

Reply

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: