The Rise of the Bully

There is no evidence that I can find that shows Bullying is on the rise, but it definitely seems like it. But if there’s no evidence that bullying is on the rise, there IS evidence that school violence is increasing. And I don’t just mean school shootings. I mean daily violence.

When I was a child, girls and boys played together, but it was generally not rough. Most boys I knew, and my husband confirms this, were taught to be more gentle with girls. They were taught to not hit girls or push them. Girls were taught to be ladylike and play gently. Girls are not taught this anymore, and girl-on-girl violence and bullying has increased. I’m not saying girls need to be taught to be ladylike. I certainly wasn’t lady like.

As a mother of three girls, I am concerned. All three of my girls are in school, Kindergarten, first and third grades. My husband volunteers at the school, and waits in the morning to make sure the girls get to class okay. Because of his presence, he has seen some disturbing activity at the school. In particular, violence towards girls.

My kindergarten girl is pretty tough, but the boys grab her arm and push her. She tells them to stop, but they don’t. No aide stops this behavior. She is learning that saying “stop” or “don’t” means nothing. Granted, she is in kindergarten, but shouldn’t boys and girls be taught that “no means no”?

My first grade girl is lovely and sweet. In her two months of school, she has been shoved against the wall by one boy. He has also pulled her hair, pushed her down, grabbed at her clothes. He chases her. He puts his arms around her. She tells him to stop. He doesn’t. His behavior has been witnessed by my third grader and my husband. My first grader tells the aides, and they make him apologize, but he is not told to sit against the wall or any other repercussions. He is learning that there are no consequences to his behavior. She has been advised to not play with him, but when she tries to ignore him, he escalates the behavior to get her attention. She does not want to push him back or hit him because it’s against the rules, so she puts up with the behavior. She has stopped telling the aides because they don’t really help.

My third grader is also lovely. She is pushed around by other girls at this age, though so far, nothing to the point I would call out of hand. The first grade boy who pesters my first grader, also pesters my third grader. In first and second grade, this daughter had more issues at a different school. She was called “ghost skin” for being very fair. She has been teased for being different (she is the only one in her class that didn’t have brown eyes). Told her eyes are “weird.” When I finally told the teacher, she said the other kids don’t mean any harm and treated me like I was overreacting. One boy grabbed her and forced a kiss on her. She was extremely upset by the unwanted kiss. The teacher said the little boy “likes” my daughter, and she needs to understand he didn’t mean any harm.

Now, I know kids have issues and part of going to school is learning how to deal with these conflicts, but I am concerned that this behavior will increase as the children get older. If No doesn’t mean No in kindergarten, what about when they are in high school? Why is it okay for my children to be teased about their racial characteristics? I would never allow my children to tease someone else over the color of their skin or eyes. Why is it okay for a first grade boy to harass and physically attack my daughter because he’s only 6 years old? Am I an overprotective mother?

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