So why did we choose to start a charity to help bullied children and their families? Given time, can’t these children recover? Isn’t bullying a rite of passage, a “boys will be boys” or “mean girls” phenomenon? Can’t children just get over being picked-on? Can’t they come back with snappy statements to a bully’s name calling or simply punch that bully back squarely in the nose? Can’t children who are assaulted simply walk away for their tormentors? Parents who have children that have been bullied, (and statistics say that is the majority of parents), know that these questions can be ludicrous and hurtful. It’s not that easy. If it was, the problem of bullying would be extinguished.
First and foremost, bullying is never an acceptable behavior. Dan Olweus, a pioneer in the area of bullying defines it as this: “A person is being bullied when he/she is exposed, repeatedly and over time to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons. Negative action is when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person through physical contact, through words or in other ways. Bullying is both overt and covert behaviors. Bullying is a pattern of behavior that is repeated over time against the same person(s) with a noted power differential.” Barbara Coloroso, a noted bullying expert and author also adds that one act can constitute bullying.
Furthermore, Dan Olweus provides us with a list of examples of bullying behaviors:
Saying hurtful and unpleasant things
Making fun of others
Using mean and hurtful nicknames
Completely overlooking someone
Deliberately excluding someone from a group of friends
Hitting, kicking, pulling hair, pushing or shutting a person inside, slamming a child into a locker, taking or breaking someone’s possesions
Spreading false rumors
Sending mean notes
Trying to get other students to dislike another person
So, to answer my first question; why did we choose to start a charity to help bullied children and their families? We want to help children and families who feel so lost, hurt and dismayed by the bullying that has happened to their family. We want to make an impact on the problem of bullying. We want to be crusaders and to stand with those who have been harmed. We want to let others know they are not alone and that things can and will get better.
My son, and our entire family have been subject to the majority of the listed bullying behaviors Dan Olweus identifies. I can attest that walking through and living with the aftermath of bullying has been the most challenging feat of my adult life. Wrestling with anger, disillusionment and fear became common bedfellows. It took time and a great amount of perseverance to once again see joy in everyday life and know that we as a family would grow stronger. We desire to share our experience and hope with you as you walk your arduous path. Hand in hand, we can heal and make a difference.
Dru E Ahlborg, Executive Director, Bullying Recovery Resource Center