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Bullies

Bullying & Beyond…the challenges?

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

I have been writing on the topic of bullying since late last year and I greatly appreciate all the support, encouragement and insightful feedback and comments which I have received to my Bullying & Beyond posts!

In order to access the most up to date information available on bullying and gain some insights and understanding of the Government’s education policy regarding the prevention of bullying,  I decided to join a blended learning programme being offered by NABC; the National Anti Bullying Association of Ireland, entitled Bullying Prevention & Intervention Online Course for Teachers.  It is a ten week online programme which also includes two face to face sessions in DCU, Dublin City University, St Patrick’s, Drumcondra, in Dublin.

And so, I would like to invite you to share your thoughts with me and in doing so, help me inform my answer to the first question we have been posed…

What do you think are the greatest challenges teachers face when dealing with bullying behaviours?

I look forward to your thought provoking responses!

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie

Bullying & Beyond…Denial

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

When we deny who we are and how we really feel, either physically and/or mentally we silence our authentic self.  We reject ourselves. For years I didn’t admit that I have fibro/fatigue, except to a few family members and close friends. When we reject ourselves we are bullying ourselves. We think we are not good enough, we focus on our flaws and feel a sense of shame.

Similarly, when we are bullied we are also silenced. We are judged by someone and denied the opportunity to be our real selves. We think we are not good enough and we withdraw from society or family. When we withdraw emotionally we block off our true emotions, denying ourselves the right to acknowledge and feel our emotions.

When our daughter experienced bullying, it caused her to step into survivor mode. She put up a front whilst crying inside.  She couldn’t let the bullies see her crying. She knew if she broke down crying, it would fuel even more bullying.

After finishing secondary school she moved past bullying, building back her resilience. She participated in further education and in society. She set and achieved many new goals. She met new and inclusive peers, friends and educators. All these mature, self-aware people bolstered her confidence.

However, even if it’s been years since you were bullied, a simple, present day event may unexpectedly trigger the same feelings. This was the case for our daughter.  It only took one educator to criticise Emma and her work, in front of her peers, to bring our daughter right back to survival mode.

This time it was different. Emma found the courage to address the issue to her school counsellor. She sought advice. She spoke up to that educator. She stood up for herself. She didn’t need to call upon her parents. She was self-sufficient.

But despite speaking up for herself, the trauma of being disrespected and denied the right to be herself, triggered her survival mode. All the things she could do with ease soon became overwhelming. That was almost nine months ago.

Anxiety
Low mood
Mood swings
Isolation
Fear
Agoraphobia
Panic attacks
Loneliness

All symptoms of bullying.

Then Emma’s new puppy, Doris arrived.

 


More mental health support came on-board.  But there are still ups and downs.

She felt lonely a few nights ago but she didn’t deny her feelings. She didn’t hide it. She cried for the loneliness and for the years of denying her true self.  You can learn more about isolation here Bullying & Beyond…A victim’s abject loneliness.

She cried while we were away, only showing us a glimpse when we returned. But a glimpse is enough to show us that she has turned a corner because now she is beginning to listen to and acknowledge how she feels.  She is learning to externalise how she feels instead of internalising the pain. That is a big step and an important lesson!

We can also learn a lesson from her new, trainee Psychiatric Assistance Dog, Doris.

Doris saw Emma’s upset. Doris didn’t deny her. The opposite in fact, Dorris, a little puppy, stretched herself across our daughter’s lap and kissed and licked her. Dorris accepted Emma exactly as she was.

Have you been denied the right to be yourself?  Do you deny yourself? What supports can you access to build your resilience and be your true self?

Le grà,

Mindfully Marie xx

Bullying & Beyond… No EXCUSE…Part 1

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Time and the right conditions not only preserve but bring about something of beauty – Marie Clancy.

 

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…

He said…
“but the bully had issues of his own”
and
“but the other boy had ADHD”
and
“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?

Le grà,

Marie xx

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