Goddamn I fucking love guest blogs, especially when they are written by people who are as passionate about a subject as the guest blogger I am lucky to introduce today. Sure, some bullies are also victims of bullying and learn that shit from bully parents or siblings, but reasons aren't excuses. Bullying is a huge fucking problem, and because of technology, it's getting easier for these cowards to spew their venom. It's got to stop.
RIGHT FUCKING NOW!
Today, I'm recording a podcast for Dadsaster, who the hell knows when it will go live, but we are talking about bullying. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, please enjoy the musings of one of the wisest women I know, Carrie Goldman author of the blog here on Chicagonow called Portrait of an Adoption.
Bullying Sucks: How NOT To Be A Mean A-Hole
In June, I was called in to work at a summer camp where seven year-olds were calling each other names like “Dumb Ho” and “Stupid Fag.” Seven years old. When I asked the kids what they thought would make them stop using those terms, one kid said very honestly, “tell those other kids not to act like dumb hos and stupid fags.”
And therein lies the problem.
Every time I speak with someone who is being bullied, I ask, “Why do you think you are being bullied?” Nine times out of ten, people give answers that trouble me.
“I’m being bullied because I’m overweight.” STOP. You are being bullied because the other people are choosing to act like mean judgmental assholes, and they are using your weight to justify mistreating you.
“My son is being bullied because he isn’t a good athlete and the other kids are calling him a fag.” NOPE. Your son is being bullied because the other kids are choosing to act like mean homophobic assholes, and they are using your son’s lack of athleticism to justify treating him like shit.
Basically, our society has done an amazing job of convincing victims that they must have done something wrong, that they must be flawed, and that is why they are being targeted. Way too much time is spent putting the burden of ending bullying on those who are targeted. Yes, we should teach empowerment to targets. Yes, we should teach social skills to those who have trouble relating to others. But it’s not enough if we don’t teach empathy and respect to the ones doing the bullying.
This is the same mindset that used to accompany criminal investigations of rape. Cops would immediately ask the woman, “Well, what were you wearing?” Nowadays, cops are trained to focus on the actions of the rapist, not the clothes of the target. We are making some progress in changing the rape culture of victim blaming.
It’s time to do the same for bullying. Let’s teach people that no matter how others may differ from them, it is not okay to act like mean assholes.
Here are a few tips:
• If you don’t want your daughter to exclude other girls, do not act exclude other moms. Little girls are watching and they notice your cliques. If you see a mom standing alone at a school event, be welcoming. As many of us say, the PTA should not be “Parents To Avoid.”
• If you want your kids to be accepting of their own bodies and everyone else’s bodies, don’t make constant little comments about everyone’s body size (or your own! Be kind to yourself. I know how hard this is for women in today’s society). Fat shaming sucks.
• If you want your kids to be empathetic, don’t dismiss the feelings of others. If another mom tells you that your kid has mistreated her kid, do not blow the situation off and dismiss it. Sometimes our little angels can act like little shits. Truth. Listen and investigate and help your child make reparations.
• When someone is upset with you, try to talk it out in real life. Do NOT text it out if you can help it. Miscommunications are made worse over email, text, or social media. Pick up the phone and call.
• Dads, if you don’t want your son to be homophobic, do not mock him when he shows pain or displays an interest in something other than stereotypical male things. If you laugh at him for being a pussy because he would rather take dancing lessons than play football, he will internalize your attitude and either feel ashamed of himself or taunt others like him. Not cool.
• If you don’t want to be a cyberbully, don’t make sweeping negative judgments about the type of person someone is based off reading one blog post or one status update. It is impossible to know that someone is a selfish bitch based on one little teeny tiny glimpse into her life. Attack the issues, not the person.
• Mean people suck. Kids who are bullied do worse in school. Adults who are bullied suffer at work. So just choose to be nice. And if you do find that there are a lot of mean people in your life, fuck ‘em. It’s time to choose new friends! May the force be with you as you lead a life of kindness.
Keep up with the wise and wonderful Carrie Goldman, the award-winning author of Bullied: What Every Parent, Teacher, and Kid Needs to Know About Ending the Cycle of Fear. TRUST ME, this book is fantastic. I've read it, and not just because I was interviewed and quoted in it. This book is a must have resource!