I Don’t Want To Bully
This story is one of the inspirations for the movie Which Team Will You Choose?
“I want to stop being a bully.”
“What makes you want to stop?” I asked, trying my best not to show my surprise.
He answered, “Because of the videos you showed us the other day. I don’t want to be a bully anymore.” I gave him a hug!
Those are the words of a child who came to me for help several years ago which will forever echo in my heart and mind.
Relating: It was a little more than one year prior to that when I sat in a court room and was shattered by the judge’s decision. He announced that due to lack of evidence the request for a restraining order from my bullying “ex” was denied. I was stunned and terrified. I just wanted the bullying to stop so I could get on with my life. But emotional abuse leaves no physical evidence (unless you inflict it upon yourself… or others). The person and the system I thought could protect me were essentially telling me “sorry, you’re on your own.” Hope was shattered. For some, this can be a very vulnerable and dangerous precipice to be standing on. Some will choose violence inward (harm to self), some will choose violence outward (harm to others), some will withdraw into depression (not accessing the tools and resources to continue), and some will choose to make significant changes in their life (making a commitment to find the tools needed to survive and thrive!). This time in my life, I chose the latter! When I returned to work as a speech-language therapist in an elementary school and learned of some of my students being bullied, I began Caring and Courageous Kids to protect them from the people who bullied them and to encourage others to stand up for them.
Intervention request: In May of 2010, nine months after the introduction of Caring and Courageous Kids, the interim principal asked me to do some intervention classes for the three 5th grade classes in response to learning that a family withdrew their child from our school and moved out of town because of bullying. Of course I eagerly accepted the challenge. On the first day, I showed some video clips from YouTube on the effects of bullying, and then had the students fill out a survey on bullying. I told the students to write their names on the survey only if they wanted to meet with me to talk about being bullied or wanting help in not being part of a group that bullies. Nearly half of the students signed their names! I met with each one of them individually, as promised. That was when the student told me “I want to stop being a bully.” In fact one other student told me something similar. By using a few video clips on the effects of people being bullied and having conversations with the 5th grade classes, and offering a chance to talk about it, it was enough to begin to turn some children who bullied around (or at least think about their choices at that time), and offer an opportunity for other students to get support for their bullying issues. Imagine what we could do if this became a regular part of the school curriculum? I did! That’s when I decided to write the script for Which Team Will You Choose? to perform as a play to kick off the following school year (which then was turned into the movie it is today).
Hope: It never dawned on me, at the time I began Caring and Courageous Kids, that my work would actually awaken the hearts of the ones who were bullying to change their ways! Since it was the end of the school year and the boys who asked for help were being promoted to the Middle school, all I could do was hope that the talk we had was enough to keep them on the right track. I wrote a letter to their principal to let him know about these two boys in hopes they would receive some support. I will never know but their story inspires me to continue my work.
The child who bullies does so for many different reasons. Perhaps no adults have ever taken the time to deal effectively with it. As adults, when we see bullying, we need to help that child, not just punish. I believe we can work with young children and help many of them turn around and learn better ways of getting along by developing an awareness of what they are doing, by helping them get their needs met in other ways, by providing counseling and mentoring, and getting them involved in positive activities in life (sports, theatre, arts, community projects, etc). It’s best to break bad habits now. Young children who bully may grow up to be the spouse, co-worker, coach, teacher (etc.) who bullies. Bullying is everyone’s responsibility, but until everyone takes on this responsibility seriously…I will listen carefully to all those who seek my help and act on their behalf to put an immediate stop to the bullying. I will work with other caring adults to create a safe learning environment for all the students in schools, at home, and in communities.
Why Do Kids Bully?