The Beat Your Bully Trick

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My son Jonathan is now 10, which is roughly the same age when I first experienced what a bully was.  I had a bully when I was 10 who for all I know may be roaming about Miami somewhere today called Rolan Maimo.  He might be a swell guy today but back in 1980 I absolutely despised him.  The weird thing about Maimo (everyone called him by his last name) was that the guy had this Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde complex with me whereby one moment he picked on me and the next he treated me like I was his best friend.  Out of fear he would embarass me in front of other 10 year old girls, I mostly wanted Maimo to think I was his friend so I didn’t do anything about it for two years.  

Maimo continued as my perverse bully/friend until ONE DAY in seventh grade.  I don’t remember all the details but suffice to say that one day he tried to push me around like he usually did in front of our classmates and on that day I decided to fight back.  If you’ve seen the classic 80’s movie  “A Christmas Story,” there’s a scene where the main kid with the glasses jumps on his bully in the snow and beats him to a pulp.  Yep, that guy was me.  I knocked the crap out of Maimo, and, well, you guessed it, the bullying was over.  We never spoke again.

Bullying is a whole different matter today.  For my son – and yours for that matter – things are more difficult and more simple at the same time.  Killings and other acts of revenge against bullies have forced schools to take the issue seriously.

In a strange way, the unfortunate attention bullying has received is good news.  Back when I was a kid, for example, my teachers and bus driver knew Maimo picked on me but they let it go.   They figured we needed to fight it out and many times they stood afar as actual fights took place between kids.

A couple months ago my son complained to me about a kid that was starting to bully him at school.  Jonathan wasn’t sure if I was going to tell him to fight him so instead I gave him the Beat Your Bully Trick that wouldn’t have worked back in the days when I was his same age.  Given the context I just mentioned about bulllying and school violence, the trick is quite easy.

The Beat Your Bully Trick consists of no violence at all.  On the contrary, it is about teaching your child to their their  teacher or even school principal IMMEDIATELY of anybody who picks on them.  I tell my son that if the school officials don’t fix the problem immediately, he is to let me know and I will come to the school.  I know school officials well enough to tell you that they don’t want to be embarrassed and they don’t want to be seen as giving room for someone to do something dangerous on their premises.  The only case in which Jonathan is instructed to fight is if his life or limbs depend on it, in which case he should fight vigorously but otherwise it’s generally wiser to go “new school” on bullies and report them to school authorities.

How do you tell your kids to handle bullies?

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  • Melissa Sustaita

    Bullying is a huge issue in schools today. Indeed it is good advice to encourage your child to speak up for themselves – to the bully (without violence), to you (the parent/ guardian) and to school administration. Sometimes teachers do not know how best to handle bullying, so I do encourage students to inform a counselor, school social worker or administration on campus immediately. The most important thing: tell someone. Here’s a quick rundown of what you can tell your child to do in the event they experience bullying (or any form of harassment): STOP – Speak up, Tell someone you trust, Offer details and Protect yourself. If anyone is interested, I can explain each step further.

    Also, in comparing bullying behavior from 1980-1990s to present day – bullying is much more pervasive, and therefore, damaging. Cyberbullying is a form of bullying that did not exist when most parents were youth. Whereas children in those days may have had a bit of respite upon returning home from school – texting, social networking sites and YouTube allow no downtime for a bully’s target. Depending on the form of bullying, duration, and how safe/ supported a child feels, effects of bullying can range from lowered self-esteem, to academic decline, anxiety, depression and in the most tragic cases – suicide.

    Bullying, whenever reported by a child should be taken seriously. Document all incidents as bullying generally progresses, and report as soon as the behavior is more offensive/ physical (Example: name calling to destroying student’s property or threats of violence). If your child’s social life and/ or academic performance is being negatively impacted – bullying has gone too far. By law, schools are required to protect students from bullying and harassment, so be your child’s strongest advocate, and go above school administration if need be.

    Another pertinent topic: What to do if your child is a bully…

  • Alisa

    A topic all too familiar to me and my 13 year-old daughter, who has had the same bully since 2nd grade.

    They have their “on/off” years, but since 6th grade, this girl has been unrelentless. My daughter has an abundance of friends, and the boys consider her a good friend too, which makes her bully very jealous. The bullying not only is in the form of open embarrassment (“Hey, your shoes don’t match”), it is also shown between kids, in a sort of code, so that the teachers don’t see or take notice.

    My daughter could be selected to read a page from a book in class, and her bully will make gagging sounds or cough, disrupting the class but making the kids laugh at my daughters’ expense. It’s difficult to report this type of behavior because it’s seen as “in their head” and it becomes even more painful to endure. It’s as if no one believes her.

    It got to a point where this girl would tell others not to sit with my daughter or talk to her. My daughter is not the type to have any outbursts, and she really only wanted this girl to leave her alone. Instead of taking it back to her teachers, who were doing nothing about it anyway, I confronted the girl’s parents, who I considered to be good people. We sat the girls down and told them they didn’t have to be friends, but her unjustified attitude towards my daughter needed to stop. The girl admitted to treating her badly, though she could not explain why or how it all started.

    At the end of our talk, the girls even shook hands, agreeing to stay out of each other’s way for the rest of their 8th grade year. All has been peaceful since, and graduation is 2 days away. Thank God.

  • PapiBlogger

    I think you handled that admirably. Thanks for sharing!

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