What one child’s story can teach us about stopping bullies.
This is a video of a young woman named Morgan. She tells her story of being bullied. I wanted to share it because what she describes is fairly typical of what happens. So here is the video. Afterwards, I will provide comment on it to help provide context and understand of what we can learn from it.
Morgan talks about how a girl was being mean. It sounds like the girl was just playing rough but it was more than that. She was being mean and she had gotten in the habit of being physically aggressive with Morgan. The more Morgan would try to get away and get it to stop, the more this bully would do it.
Morgan is quite young. When kids start bullying, they aren’t necessarily trying to be mean. We have no way of knowing what was going through the bullies head, but it is entirely possible she didn’t know she was being mean. She might just have genuinely wanted to play with Morgan and this was her way of doing it. Bullies don’t always know when they are bullying.
However, all kids can fall into patterns and habits of behavior that can escalate. And that’s exactly what happened. Morgan described her bully as being angry – and should could very well have been. She might have been jealous of Morgan having so many friends and since she is a kid she was unable to express herself.
Morgan wasn’t telling anyone what was going on or that she was being hurt and was afraid. Her mom, however, was on top of things managed to get it out of her. Parents need to have regular conversations about what is happening at school. What is good about it, what isn’t. If your child says something that raises a red flag, follow up. Find out what is going on. Sometimes it is nothing, and other times, it’s a big deal.
When her mom intervened on her behalf, the bully got “even madder” and got more violent. This is what is known as extinction burst. Bullies don’t give up control over their victims without a fight. They will more often than not become more aggressive as a way to reassert control over their victim. Fortunately, the school intervened and she failed at that.
The final bit of this video is the most important. It is critical that kids report what is happening to them. The adults around them can’t help them if they don’t speak up. Once they speak up, help is provided and while it isn’t an easy road to get bullying to stop, it can be done if reporting is consistent.
The big tragedy of this is that had she reported it right away, it would have stopped right away. The sooner intervention occurs, the better for everyone; including the bully.
How do you encourage your child to report? Do you talk to your child about what happened at school every day? What do they say that scares you?