If you read any of my blogs, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now I’m not going to give you something easy to digest. I just don’t have it in me to perpetuate the same white noise we – as educators, as people – have come to expect. If we’re not going to challenge some thinking, why bother? Hey, I can write vanilla with the best of them, but we’re called to something more. So, even when it comes to a topic that wavers in and out of our consciousness like most other phrases that can elicit yawns as often as yells, I just can’t do it. I can’t coddle you or me with what we’ve come to expect. I suppose that’s my apology, or perhaps my warning, or perhaps my challenge as you ponder reading on, or not.
Our district recently enhanced the specifics related to defining, reporting, and responding to bullying. Now, please allow me to be clear: Anything related to helping people feel more welcome and safe is a good thing, a right thing, regardless of how close or far away our intentions and efforts may hit or fall from the target. With that said, here are some thoughts, and questions …
When I hear comments thrown around like, “Finally, they’re doing something about bullying,” I roll my eyes and throw up a little bit in my mouth. Pretending like nothing has ever been done about bullying is as much of a lie as pretending like now everything will be done about bullying.
Children are bullies because adults are bullies because people are bullies. We’re broken. All of us. Not some of us. All of us. Saying that doesn’t mean we should not do anything about bullying. That, of course, would be the easy and convenient thing to do since it can avoid the obvious, the overwhelming, the hit that’s just a bit too close to home.
Why do we use the word “bully” or “bullying” to describe a person and their behavior that is harassment in it’s most subtle form, and assault or more in the worst circumstances? We all use the phrases, including me in the title and throughout this blog post and beyond. But, why?
Bullying can contribute to a person killing themselves. It’s happened in the past, it’s happening right now, and it will continue to happen in the future. The frailty of a human being is as certain as our brokenness. Whose fault is it when someone takes their own life? Is it the fault of those around him or her that tore them down instead of lifting them up? Is it the fault of those around him or her that loved them, or at least knew them, but didn’t notice or listen or help? Is it his or her own fault? Is it everyone’s? Is it no one’s?
We’re all about grace when it comes to ourselves and our children or loved ones, but it’s not such a popular thing when it comes to others or those who harm our children or loved ones. I’ve made, continue to make, and will make many mistakes, and I welcome and give thanks for the grace granted to me for the error of my ways. My children and loved ones are no different than me, and I welcome and am thankful for the same for them. For me. For them. How about for others?
Is it about how many pounds of flesh we require for retribution, or is it about how much time and effort, and heart and soul, we’re willing to invest to listen, to love, to learn, and to grow?
It’d be nice if the answers could be found in a policy, but they can’t. There’s a reason for that. May we all take the opportunity to discover it, and understand it.