October Bullying: White Boys in Baja, Brown Girls in Cali
He acted like it wasn’t a big deal, but we knew otherwise.
“I got kicked in the stomach today.”
I felt objectivity fly out la ventana while my blood pressure rose.
“I don’t know. I couldn’t understand them.”
When we sent our tall, pale, strawberry blonde boy to school in a black-hair-rules culture, we knew it might be rough. Not speaking the language basically made him feel deaf and mute.
Whether the other kids talked, whispered or yelled didn’t make a difference; our child had no friends and no idea how to make them. So he climbed trees, ate, walked, colored and played alone.
The learning curve of language and culture proved steep and acceptance into their world moved slow.
A year or two later he understood just enough Spanish to know when they poked fun of his freckles, red hair and extra large feet.
We knew we couldn’t blame this bullying on the fact that we lived in another country; bullies exist around the globe. But when you don’t even know why you’re being picked on, that’s confusing.
Especially when you’re four.
Straight Up Facts
According to DoSomething.org, one of the largest organizations for young people and social change…
- In the U.S., 1-in-5 students ages 12-18
hasbeen bullied during the school year.
- Approximately 160,000 teens have skipped school because of bullying.
- Students who reported that they were frequently bullied scored lower in reading, mathematics, and science than their peers who reported that they were never or rarely bullied.
- The most commonly reported type of bullying is verbal harassment (79%), followed by social harassment (50%), physical bullying (29%), and cyberbullying (25%).
- More than half of bullying situations stop when a peer intervenes on behalf of the student being bullied.
6th gradestudents experience the most bullying (31%).
- Students are less likely to report bullying as they get older. Only 39% of high schoolers notified an adult of bullying.
- 42% percent of students who reported being bullied at school indicated that the bullying was related to at least one of the following characteristics:
- physical appearance (30%)
- race (10%)
- gender (8%)
- disability (7%)
- ethnicity (7%)
- religion (5%)
- sexual orientation (4%)
I don’t care if you’re a white boy in Baja or a brown girl in Cali. Bullying crosses all social, racial, economic, and religious borders and ruthlessly levels the playing field.
Do you have these numbers?
No Bully Help Hotline: 1-866-488-7386
STOMP Out Bullying HelpLine: view hours and chat online
GLBT National Youth Talkline: 1-800-246-7743
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Please copy and paste, print or share these resources with the young people in your life… even if you don’t think they need it. They probably have a friend who might.
Unity Day, the signature event of National Bullying Prevention Month, has been recognized in the United States since 2011.
To participate in Unity Day, individuals, schools, communities, and businesses wear or display orange to show support for students who have been bullied.
- Date: Wednesday, October 23
- Location: All over The U.S.A.
- Color: Orange
- Message: No more bullying!
- Key Words: Kindness, acceptance, inclusion
I’m already picturing some cray-cray orange outfits from a few of my less-shy faithful reader friends. Royce? Ann? Jeanne? Rob? Betsy? Sherry? Leo? Brenda? Jeanne? Wendi? Robin? Billie? Come on… you know you want to.
Tag me on Instagram or Facebook and use any of these hashtags:
Let’s make some orange noise for this worthy cause together!
Qs 4 You
Were you bullied as a kid?
Do you have a child, niece, nephew or grandchild being bullied?
Do you have a rad way to silence a bully?
Do you have an encouraging phrase for someone being bullied?
Share in the comments to help us all out!
Martial arts training is beneficial for both sides of the bullying equation. My kids just got sucker-punched at school by kids (who didn’t know who they were dealing with). It won’t happen again without a forceful response. I let their parents know their kids could take a class at our studio and refocus that energy into something more productive.
Good point, Amber! I’m sorry your boys were on the receiving end of bullying. I love how you told the parents they could join your studio. Did they seem interested?
The parents weren’t interested and thankfully there’s been no further incidents. However we now have four other kids from school training with us!
So fun to have other kids training with you. Among other things, you’re building great memories!
You do such a vital cultural service, dear Carrie. Repeatedly! Bully for you!!
Wow–thank you, Don. I’ve never thought about it like that, but I appreciate your kind words.
I was bullied A LOT in the LA public schools on the 1970s. The only help I was given was to try to avoid them, even though I was physically hurt a couple of times. My mother taught me to be nice all the time, plus I was a tall, skinny, strange child. I did not stand up for myself. I have two almost adult boys with Asperger’s who were also bullied. So I focused on their assertiveness skills and talking about why kids get into bullying. My older son continued to have some atypical behavior that brought negative attention, but my younger one did pretty well. He hangs out with those who accept him and has learned to express it when he is not enjoying being teased. I am also a teacher, BTW, and we can’t see everything, but we can have conversations with the accused bullies. Probably something is going on with them that they need help with and their feelings are going into bullying since they have nowhere else to turn. I spend time with my students teaching them how to problem solve with each other instead of just accusing and blaming. A lot of them just don’t know how. It makes a world of difference.
I’m sorry you were bullied, Beth, and that your boys have experienced it too. So great that you’re a teacher now so you can truly understand kids who are getting picked on. You’re right–most of the time it seems like bullies have been bullied themselves, and a lot of that negative attention starts in the home. Thank you for teaching your students how to problem solve; you are making a difference!
Jennifer Zarifeh Major
Our kids escaped with minimal bullying, mostly because the boys are all hockey players and uhh, most people don’t mess with big, athletic kids who know how to give and take physical roughness. Although our boys were/are known for their fairplay and good manners, they did get into the occasional skirmish on ice. One time, shortly after returning from a Christmas mission trip to Haiti, #2 (he played centre forward, on the first line, thus was a target)was roughed up during a game, and didn’t fight back. His team saw what happened, and the next shift change, umm, that other player got uhh, pummeled. Their exact words, as they punched the felon, were “you can’t hit him, he’s a missionary!”. So yeah, that went well. The coaches were kind of stunned, but didn’t reprimand our little vigilante squad because there’s an unwritten code of conduct on the ice and one of the rules is you don’t target your goons on one player for an entire game. There is the expected level of roughness, and then there is targeted violence. And you NEVER target the goalie, especially when he’s down. (insert another story of my son getting bashed in his head by a punk on the other team, and then his team mates evening the score. Also, that is why goalies wear 1000$ helmets.)
When #1 started high school, one of the kids from our church started as well. The kid was barely verbal and on the spectrum. I told #1 that he needed to keep an eye on his friend, and if anyone bullied him, do what he needed to do in order to protect a defenseless kid. #1 had the entire varsity hockey team keep an eye out for this kid. What we all found out at the end of grade 12, is that the entire varsity football team kept watch over him as well.
Wouldn’t it be lovely to send each bullied kid to school with their own army of protectors?
Oh my gosh… “You can’t hit him–he’s a missionary!” I love it! We always told our boys that they were never allowed to start a fight, but they could most certainly defend themselves. Down in Baja on the dirt playgrounds, the unwritten codes were more like America in the 70s and 80s. Everything got taken care of at lunchtime, and then it was over. Teachers didn’t intervene unless it got ugly, and there was no such thing as a yard nark. Survival of the fittest isn’t the best scenario when it comes to kids truly getting bullied, but most of the stuff our boys witnessed wasn’t that bad. That story about two varsity teams keeping an eye out for the new kid was powerful. Thanks for sharing, Jennifer!