Friday, June 4, 2010
For anyone interested who missed the live broadcast last night, you can download a podcast of the radio segment Kevin was on in which he talked about his bullying experience at choicesradio.com. Click on the Podcasts button at the top of the home page, then look for the podcast entitled Bullying dated Friday, June 4, 2010. Kevin did a really great job being interviewed on the radio! And I think the topic is one well worth discussing.
Several people have asked what connection I have with Nicole O'Dell, the host of the program, and how it came to be that Kevin was asked to participate in her radio program. Nicole and I know each other from pregnancy.org, a site that hosts dozens of pregnancy and parenting message boards. She and I were pregnant at the same time, she with triplets (!!) and me with Finn, and we got to know each other on a message board devoted to parents of large families. Nicole, like me, is the mother of six kids. She's an amazing woman and mother who has devoted herself to helping teens through the pitfalls of growing up.
Several people have also asked me what happened to the boy who was bullying Kevin a couple years ago. As far as I know, he never was expelled, but he did disappear suddenly. His younger sister was in Joey's kindergarten class that year and she was suddenly gone from the school as well, so we assumed that the family had moved away. That kid was sort of the "ringleader" of his little group, and when he left the school, his cohorts left Kevin alone for the most part. Still, I remember feeling a lot of relief that we were moving Kevin to a different school the following school year for middle school.
On the show last night, the questions were posed: what makes bullies tick? Why do bullies bully? I'm sure there are all kinds of bully profiles. There have always been, and probably always will be people who can only feel good about themselves if they're making someone else feel bad or small. I think this often stems from a feeling of powerlessness; I think the vast majority of garden-variety childhood bullies are kids who are being mistreated themselves. They're witnessing abusive behavior at home, experiencing it themselves, and/or experiencing it elsewhere in their lives, and they turn their anger on someone they perceive as weaker than themselves in order to attain a feeling of power and control. So in that way, I think it's important to find compassion for childhood bullies. In fact, I've always told my kids that if someone is mean to them, it's important to try extra hard to be nice to that kid because chances are, someone is being mean to them. That said, of course nobody should ever have to tolerate being harassed, pushed around, tormented, and certainly not being beat up. So it's important that kids have trusted adults they can go to with these problems, and it's important that the adults intervene.
But of course the most important thing we, as parents, can do is take a preventative stance by teaching kindness, compassion, and empathy to our kids by example. Telling your kids not to pick on other kids, I think, doesn't go nearly as far as showing them by example how good kindness feels.