Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

True stories of bullying and tips on how to handle bullies October 7, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 8:42 AM

THOMAS IS 10 YEARS OLD and these are his words:

“It makes me feel bad and sad when someone calls me names or makes fun of me. I wanted to quit one of my favorite activities because a boy was being mean to me. I talked to my Dad and Mom about it and they talked to the teachers for me. It got a lot better. I learned a lot from a website. I will not let anyone bully someone else.”

Anna is 53 and these are her words:

“Even after all these years, the mean words, the taunts, the teasing remain with me. Nearly every afternoon I came home from school crying, not wanting to go back the next day. I’m not sure why I was picked on, but I think it was because I was a farm kid who didn’t quite fit in with the town crowd. Only when my independent school consolidated with another district did my nightmare end. At my new school, nearly everyone lived on farms. Finally, I was accepted. Yet, the pain inflicted upon me by some of my junior high classmates has never left me, even after all these decades.”

Kate is a mother and these are her words:

“Our son, is an amazing person… giving, thoughtful, unique, smart and just doesn’t fit into your standard role of boy. He has a creative side and an amazing voice. We have worried: Do we encourage him to be who he is even though we know that he will get some resistance from other kids….or do we constantly crush his spirit and make him fit into the expected norm? We decided to encourage him to be who he is, but warn him that sometimes people may judge him on how he acts or who he is…

He is now 10, in the choir and loving it. He started getting called names by another boy in the choir. It was another one of those parental decisions that are so hard to make. Do you let him handle it on his own or step in and discuss it with the staff? After he came home the second time and told us he wanted to quit choir, we knew we had to step in. We talked to the instructor, who had already addressed some behavior issues. We also discussed a plan for our son—who to talk to if the behavior happens again. The boy apologized to our son and then started in again. Our son followed the plan. It took some time, and a lot of patience, but the situation has improved so our son is happy going to choir again.

Here’s what I learned from the experience: I resisted talking to the instructor because in our society, we teach children not to tattle. Many children do not tell when they are being bullied. I learned that someone is bullying when they are intentionally making someone else sad. I also learned that if you don’t address the behavior, it may not go away. We found a website that helped us to understand that it is not OK to be a bystander and let someone else bully. I encourage you to role play with your children on how to react to someone bullying them or even just how to respond to negative comments.”

The above accounts are all true. Thomas and his mom, Kate (not their real names), live in central Minnesota. Anna is me.

These examples of bullying speak for themselves.

For more information about bullying and advice on how to help your kids, check out the websites recommended by Kate: www.PACERKidsAgainstBullying.org and www.PACERTeensAgainstBullying.org

Students from Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Height, Delano Middle School and Delano High School were involved with producing materials for the above PACER websites.

Special thanks to Kate and Thomas for sharing their stories with Minnesota Prairie Roots readers during National Bullying Prevention Awareness Week Oct. 4 – 10. Bullying must be addressed. So do your part to prevent and end bullying.