Bullying is often experienced by children who;
Are shy or meek,
Are overweight or underweight,
Are neglected or dirty,
Have a learning difficulty,
Are taller than, shorter than or different from the average,
Have low confidence or self esteem,
Are seen as the high achiever; class swat, or
Are of an alternative ethnicity or race to the majority of the class
But our son didn’t fit into any of these categories… or so I thought,
and I was curious as to why he was targeted.
I asked him why he thought he was a victim of bullying…
He reminded me of a phase he went through in primary school when he grew his hair. For a while he was the only child with longer than average hair and then I realised this simple step, outside the norm, meant he had fallen into the “different” category…
Eventually the phase wore off and he cut his hair but it was too late…the foundations of bullying had been laid.
But during that conversation something very important struck me! As he was explaining his experience, he also added a… “BUT” or an “EXCUSE” as to why the bullies behaved this way…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
“but the other boy had ADHD”
“but another bully had a physical impediment and could easily have been bullied himself so he sided with the bully to protect himself.”
My initial reaction was how generous our son was, willing to make excuses and forgive their wrong-doing and destructive behaviour and all these statements made me feel proud;
speaking volumes about his personal values, his humanistic, empathetic private logic and how he saw the world,
but on reflection, it also made me sad;
it spoke volumes about valuing ourselves and expecting to be respected by others. It spoke of our son’s willingness to under-value himself. It spoke of the need for healthy boundaries and knowing when those boundaries have been disrespected.
And while I agree that each of those bullies probably had a difficult back story, or issue of their own…
victims of bullying are innocent and do not need to make excuses for or take ownership of the nasty behaviour or acts perpetrated by bullies. It is however, vital that victims learn the importance of self-respect.
So the bottom line is that it’s NOT OK that bullies treat you disrespectfully
And it’s NOT OK to make excuses for them. You deserve respect!
There is no BUT, there is no EXCUSE…
Have you been bullied? Do you fit into a stereotypical category? Have you made excuses for your bully? Do you still think there is an excuse?