The problem of bullying
September 7, 2016
The view from the cottage is dark tonight. Jacob was teased at recess at school today. A good friend called him Chubby Brown. Jacob didn’t inherit a thin build. He’s not chubby but he’s solid, stocky, always has been, always will be. It’s the way God made him.
But his feelings were hurt. This is not a new phenomenon—it’s happened several times. Jacob even said he didn’t want a birthday cake because it would be fattening. We don’t know how to handle it gracefully. We don’t want to teach a child to be mean in retaliation, but how do we tell him to handle it. My vote is to tell him to be direct and tell the friend involved that it hurt his feelings, that he is not fat but built like his parents, and they are not fat but they are not stick skinny. Jacob has to learn to stand up for himself, without being mean and sinking to the level of his bullies’ meanness. But it’s a hard lesson.
Bullying seems to be an endemic problem among school childr4en these days, though I generally think of it as a middle school problem and not for ten-year-olds. But if Jacob can learn to handle it now and know that he has the love and support of his large family, he’ll be set to deal with middle school. And I hope he’ll always reach out to someone he sees being bullied.
In a way I see this as related to the anger and hatred that have been exposed in our society lately. But on the other hand, I remember kids who were whispered about in grade school—for instance kids got ringworm and in those days they shaved their heads and put the end of a nylon stocking on them for a cap, presumably to keep the infection from spreading. Talk about a stigma.
So maybe bullying and being bullied are part of growing up. Jacob told me tonight that one of his good friends really likes a certain girl, so Jacob teased him about where they were going on their honeymoon. The boy hit him, and Jacob seemed to think it was funny.
Anonymous sent a good solid comment that I accidentally deleted from the comments, so I'm pasting it in here: Please don't get the parents involved. The name that he was called is not worthy of an adult all out intervention. Today's kids are been trained to have their parents do conflict resolution. Kids will be kids, they will insult each other (please understand that we men have a bonding method different than women, we call each other names (as adults), punch each other and call each other B*****). I have seen it a million times, kids will fight, adults get involved, five minutes later, kids back at play, but now adult sisters no longer talk to each other.
If Jacob is self-esteem is affected by his body, perhaps he can be empowered by getting him involved in exercising, simple things like a pull up bar, a jump rope, sit-ups can do wonders for a kid, not to mention the fact that by seeing steady improvement it will affect his confidence.
Unfortunately I have been around kids who have weight issues and the affect it has on them is tremendous, but I also see are parents who refuse to accept the facts, refuse to see a nutritionist etc.