“What goes around
Always comes around,
And bullies get beat in the end!
So don’t be a bully!
A bully’s not a friend!”
My memory is a tricky beast. Perfectly designed for recalling inconsequential trivia, random nonsense, movie quotes, and song lyrics, it does not seem to hold on to some of the more salient details of life, such as former classmates names or exact dates.
The lyrics at the top of this entry are a part of one of my earliest memories. They came from of a cartoon I saw once as a kid. I was a kindergartner in rural Mississippi, playing with another kid whose face I can barely recall, whose name is lost to time. I may never remember that childhood friend’s name nor recall his face, but I have never forgotten the ditty.
It’s a good lesson to teach a child right at the start of their life, I believe. I have other memories that stand out more, of course. First kisses and graduations and running the backroads with my besties mingle with half-recalled lab partners and barely memorable field trips and entire classes I may or may not have slept straight through most days.
But I still remember the name of the kid who put gum in my hair in 7th grade history. I remember the name of the friend of his who laughed about it and stole my comic books while I was sent out of class. I remember the name of the guy who threw a basketball into my face in gym class, as well as that of the girl who told me I was too ugly to act and my voice was too grating to sing. I do not recall the name of the girl I tutored in English twice a week for two years in high school, but I remember clearly who was responsible for shoving me headfirst into the metal bleachers in 5th grade.
As you can tell, bullying played a major role in my childhood. Each of the examples lifted above involved a different bully, and none of them were isolated incidents. They are burned into my brain. In my case, it tapered off dramatically in high school. A change of schools after junior high helped, to be sure, and I had the added benefit of a tight knit group of friends (many kids are not so lucky). I do not still feel anger at my bullies, but I remember the anger and the shame of feeling helpless towards them.
“Bullying” is a repeated, volatile, aggressive activity that can have long lasting consequences. The CDC estimates that over a quarter of children have moderate to serious experiences with bullying. That’s a staggering and painful number. Bullying can lead to worse problems. Depression, eating disorders, violent aggression (yes, shockingly, most bullies are the victims of bullying and abuse themselves), even suicide--all have been found to be symptoms of bullying. Bullying is one of the most serious children’s health concerns today. As school starts back, take time to discuss bullying with your child. Talk to them about their experiences and make sure that they are actively trying to prevent being a bully themselves. Bullying needs to be stopped. It really can be a matter of life and death.
The Children’s Clinic is a professional association of pediatricians that have been providing the people of Tennessee with quality care for decades. Our highly qualified staff offers compassionate, personalized care from birth through the teenage years. Our office is located at 264 Coatsland Drive in Jackson, TN. You can reach us by calling 731-423-1500 or via our website, www.thechildrensclinicpa.com.