“What if my son wasn’t bullied?”
Is that thought among your what ifs? Do you wonder what role bullying played in your child’s mental illness (MI)? Thinking maybe bullying caused it.
Bullying is painful for the target and for the victim’s mother.
Our son, Chris, was the object of bullying throughout school. His ADHD made him an easy target. Other kids knew how to torment him in class without getting caught. If Chris told them to stop, he’d be the one to get in trouble for disrupting the class. His belongings were often taken from him. Kids teased him at recess. Even beat him up. He got so taunted on the bus that I drove him to and from school.
As he got older, it got worse. In sixth grade Chris became a latch-key kid. My new job prevented me from driving him to and from school. He had to take the bus. When he got off the bus, children harassed him. The school district said there was nothing they could do. The police advised against taking action. Saying it would only enflame the situation. So each day when I came home I’d check him for bruises. Then I’d comfort him and repair his damaged self-esteem.
Just when things seemed like they couldn’t get worse, they did. In high school he joined the marching band. I often watched his peers walk past him as if he didn’t exist. A form of bullying that says, “You’re not worthy enough to be acknowledged.” Someone even pulled a knife on him. In college a teacher whacked him on the head with a book because he slept in class. NOTE: His medication made him drowsy.
Undoubtedly, bullying impacts mental health. The website stopbully.gov addresses the effects of bullying. They state, “Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health …”
Some children are bullied more than others. Even just one traumatic event can scar someone emotionally. It’s time to update the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never FOREVER hurt me.” Emotional scars can last a lifetime.
Ask my mother-in-law, Mary. When she was alive, she frequently told the story of an incident that happened when she was eight years old.
At home, her parents spoke Ukrainian. So, Mary pronounced ‘soup’ by saying ‘zoup.’ In second grade she told her teacher, “I’m having zoup for lunch.”
Her teacher asked her to repeat what she said.
Mary repeated it and the entire class laughed at her. Including the teacher.
Mary told that story over and over again … even 85 yrs. after it happened.
Bullying has impacted my life as a bystander, parent, educator, and administrator. That’s why I wrote a picture book to empower bystanders. Children who witness bullying are often too intimidated to tell an adult. There seemed to be a need for a book to help bystanders. One that parents and educators could use to teach bystanders what they can do to prevent bullying. Heart Eyes: Beth and the Bullies is now available on Amazon in print or as an eBook.
What’s the worst kind of bullying? Would it be when someone is threatening a person’s life? Imagine if your best friend’s father was trying to kill you? In the Bible we read about David. His best friend’s father, Saul, repeatedly tried to kill David.
David didn’t understand why he was so persecuted. He asked his best friend, “What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to kill me?” (1 Samuel 20:1)
Later in 1 Samuel 30:4 we read how things got so bad that, “David and his men wept aloud until they had no strength left to weep.”
Have you ever cried that much over the tragedy of your child’s life?
The same God who protected David’s life can minister to you. David strengthened himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6). Find inner strength in the Lord your God.
We can praise God in our storm because we know He’s with us. ‘Praise You in the Storm’ by Casting Crowns reminds us of that truth.