The Other Side of Bullying

by She Flies With Her Own Wings

Bullying has been occurring more and more frequently and is a topic that is often times in the news.  Now, I think a lot of this has to do with an increase in technology and social media, kids are a lot more likely to say mean things to someone when there’s a keyboard and screen in between them.  There’s also the fact that as a society we now think anything that isn’t ‘nice’ is now considered bullying.  The truth is, kids can be mean.  All kids.  It’s part of growing up; sometimes we’re on the receiving end and sometimes we’re the mean ones.  There’s a fine line between bullying, and being a kid.

Bullying is what many news stations have chosen to cover when it comes to schools and adolescents.  Actually news in general likes to focus on the negatives in the world.  What about the nice kids though?  What about the kids who go out of their way to stand up for someone?  The students who reach out and become friends with the ‘targets’…

As a substitute teacher I often times don’t get to build real relationships or connections with students.  However, about a month ago I had the privilege of substitute teaching at the same school for the same teacher for a whole week.  I got to know these kids better than I do in most classes.  There were two students in these classes who were fairly autistic.  They were mentally and physically a lot slower than the rest of their peers (I was subbing for PE).  These were students who would have been easy targets, students who I almost assumed would deal with other kids picking on them and making fun of them.  What I witnessed though was something entirely different!

The students as a whole were very encouraging and supportive of these two boys.  If one of them was having trouble understanding my directions, another student or two would come over and take their hand, and walk them through or to what was going on.  If one of these autistic boys completely missed kicking or catching a ball, students didn’t laugh, they supportingly would cheer “it’s ok! you got the next one!!”  

I wish stories like this were told.  I wish the students who are making a positive difference in their schools were the ones in the news.  If these kids were highlighted, we wouldn’t need to have anti-bullying campaigns, because being nice and inclusive would be the ‘norm’ and the ‘cool’ thing to do.

As a society we need to focus more on the good.  We need to reinforce the positive instead of punishing the negative.  We can start a chain reaction…there’s already 10 year olds who are making ripples.