Bullies. They come in all shapes and sizes. And they choose to bully in many different ways.
Bullying is an issue that is close to my heart and one I am finding myself think a lot about with the coming of the new school year.
My daughter has just started a new school. I find myself going through my mind, thinking, are other kids going to like her? How will the interactions with the other kids go? Is she going to find good friends and good positive role models? Have I done my part in raising her so far to make her the kind of person who will be a good role model to other kids? Have I raised her not to be a bully? Have I sufficiently prepared her for bullying in case it happens, and will she know what to do if and when it does?
My mother once asked me after reading my book if I was bullied a lot growing up. My honest answer was that I didn’t really come into contact with too many bullies too much as I was growing up. Things were just different then. I encountered some bullying when I was in my twenties, but that was mostly of the online kind, and I had already grown up and into someone I wanted to be. So it was much easier to handle at that age and maturity level. It’s harder, though, when you’re a kid and just in the process of developing.
The book I wrote, Tales of the Anna Khonda, talks a lot about bullying. Of course, the main character, Anna Khonda, probably encounters different types of bullying and a different severity or level of bullying, as she has a genetic mutation that has her looking quite different. In our society, it’s hard to blend in, and if you are already different in a way that is difficult to hide, the chance that a bully will rise up and think that he or she should or could make you pay for what is different about you, he or she will.
And these days, sometimes you read news stories, and you want your kid to be different, at least from some of what is out there. A story flashed across my Facebook feed not long ago about a couple of girls, maybe 11 or 12, who attempted to kill another little girl who was 11 or 12 based on some horrible online stories that are apparently popular with kids these days and the fact that they were bored. Hopefully, my child will not be in a school district ever where that kind of thing finds popularity. I know part of it is about where you are. Where I grew up and in the time I grew up, something like that would horrify everyone in the community. The people who would do things like that would be considered outsiders; it would not be considered the norm.
The outlet Anna Khonda chooses in order to deal with the bullying she encounters is martial arts, and it ends up saving her life. I find myself wondering if I have exposed my child to the opportunities and outlets that could possibly help her deal with something like that, should she encounter it.
I took martial arts, and one thing that shaped parts of this story that really just stuck with me was that one day, a kid came into our class, and the teacher of the class asked him why he was there. His response was so that he could gain the skills he needed to deal with the bullies in his school. We had a whole session based on that answer.
I guess time will tell.