I was a bully. Not for long and certainly not at the most impressionable ages, but long enough for me to know the fear being a bully can create. I was what you might call an intellectual bully. My behavior had to do with my frustration with classmates not being as intellectually gifted (not my words) as me. I would lash out at students who answered a question incorrectly, one that I could easily answer. Sometimes, I would lash out if I didn't like someone's artwork. Not sure why I thought I had any credentials as an art critic. Perhaps I was actually jealous. I once threw a student's crayons out the window because I thought his art was subpar. My mother took me shopping after school that day. We purchased one of those Crayola 64 pack with the sharpener in the back. This was a big deal.
Then, I found out that the school communicates with parents. Oops. She told me those crayons with the sharpener in the back and a true plethora of colors to choose from would not belong to me. In fact, they were to be given to that same boy whose crayons I threw out the window. It was a good lesson learned. But, I was still a year away from leaving behind a life of bullying.
I don't want my daughter to be a bully. That should not come as a surprise. Who does? But, as a long time educator, I saw parents who certainly, sometimes unknowingly, created bullies. My wife and I have been vigilant in our work with Camilla. We can only hope the seeds we are planting, the concepts we've discussed, will create a good citizen. We hope she will be an advocate for her peers, especially those who are struggling to find a voice. Be inspired to make a difference. And not be a bystander.
The problem is sometimes the other children she is exposed to, whether they are friends, kids from a playground, or classmates. Their actions could be just as influential as anything my wife and I shared. That's what's scary.
Recently, CNN published an online article that provides ways to prevent your daughter from becoming a mean girl. Check it out here.
In addition, StopBullying.Gov offers some amazing resources to help tackle and possibly prevent bullying.