We Can’t Banish Bullying, but We Can Take a Stand


Stories about schoolyard bullying are rampant, but you haven’t heard this one … because it’s mine.

Picture day’s end at a middle school. My nephew had barely started his walk home when another student – one who relentlessly targeted him day after day – grabbed him around the neck and threw him on the ground.

Their classmates saw the incident … but did nothing.

Parents – waiting in a long line of cars to pick up their children – did nothing. No one asked my nephew if he was OK. No one reprimanded the bully. No one reported the incident to a school employee. How do I feel about their inaction? Repulsed.

I hate to sound sanctimonious, but I’m fired up about this topic.

I’m especially disappointed in the parents. Maybe they sympathized with my nephew, but assumed someone else would step in. Or maybe – because it wasn’t their child – they simply didn’t care. Heartbreaking.

Self-esteem and safety are at risk. Fortunately, we are a loving family, which helps provide a barrier (though not impenetrable) against hurtful behavior. But what about kids who are neglected or bullied at home? Who looks out for them?

Here’s the thing: Bullies come from various backgrounds. They may be victims themselves, so they lash out. Others have outstanding families. And some are enabled by parents who adopt a “kids will be kids” or “my child would never do that” mentality.

Talk to your own children about bullying. Don’t have kids? Talk to young relatives. Don’t assume that they aren’t experiencing it (as instigator or victim). Build their self-worth and emphasize that you’re in their corner. And if you see someone being mistreated, speak up.

Ask yourself this question: What would you have done if you were sitting in the car at my nephew’s middle school that day?

2 thoughts on “We Can’t Banish Bullying, but We Can Take a Stand

  1. I recently posted about this on my own blog. The main reason why adults don’t intervene when they see bullying or even full scale fisticuffs is the fear that if they do, they will be sued or even on criminal charges. There have been a few instances where this has happened and has probably been blown out of proportion by the media. Still it is enough to scare adults into doing nothing when they witness bullying.

  2. Thank you for your story about your nephew. I have spent the last 15 years focusing on teaching kids how to treat one another.
    We have a national bullying epidemic. Research supports social skills training, at young ages, as the missing link in bullying prevention. Social skills tools help implement important character values in young lives, like compassion, kindness, and empathy, and they help kids reject bullying. At Cool Kind Kid, we have seen changed behavior as we redefine “cool.” When kids learn that kind, caring, and respectful behaviors are cool, bullying then becomes uncool. Through award-winning music, fun characters and activities, kids are engaged and excited to learn that they can be both kind and cool. They learn the kind kid is the cool kind, not the bully.
    Cool Kind Kid®—Social Skills that Break the Cycle of Bullying by Redefining “Cool”™
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