I was made aware of some really unpleasant news last night. My middle son, who is the most agreeable and likeable boy you could ever possibly meet, was the subject of bullying on Friday at school.
He didn’t want to tell me about it when he stayed with me this weekend because he wanted to have a happy weekend. Perhaps he wanted to forget about it.
Skip to Monday and my ex-wife reported to me that he was late to rise and reluctant to go to school. When he was dropped off last night round my house my ex-wife and I discussed it.
She made me aware of an incident at school where my son was a victim of bullying by a boy older than him. His crime against this boy… wandering unwittingly into “his territory”. His punishment… a slap in the face and a heavy punch to the stomach.
To say I am angry is the understatement of the century. If you knew my son you would know straight away that he is a loving, caring, happy, friendly, likeable and energetic young man. He has been consistently a joy to be with since birth.
This is the kind of trauma in life that can really change someone in a negative manner. I experienced something similar myself in secondary (high) school. Like my son, I didn’t like confrontation or getting physical , because I just didn’t like those things. I wasn’t a coward but I knew if I burst my top I’d be capable of really harming someone.
Easier to keep it all in check. My son is very much the same. Take a lot for him to boil over even in the face of actual physical violence. Life has to teach us these lessons sometimes – but sometimes those lessons are painful and unpleasant and, in my opinion, not always necessary.
What advice can you give in this kind of situation? From what I gather it was a one off scenario, wrong place wrong time situation, that couldn’t have been foreseen. My only concern now is that he is now on the radar of this older kid.
The advice I gave was simple. Bullies, and people like that, are only looking for a reaction from you. They want you to cry, to be upset, to be angry, to shout, to scream, to fight with them, to swear at them. They thrive off the reaction and it empowers them further still.
I told my son to avoid this person at all costs and if they attempt to interact with you just move on. Don’t make eye contact, don’t talk to them, don’t react. If they continue to push then report the incident to the school office immediately.
I also set to reassure him that regardless of what happens that the two paths my son and this boy takes will diverge considerably in the future. Bullies have a very bleak future indeed as they base the foundation of their life on aggression and getting what they want regardless of the feelings of others.
This path can take these people down some very dark alleys. My sons life however already has a focus. Study and a future doing what he loves and wants to do. This maybe doesn’t help him right now but he can be assured that his interaction with this boy, even if unpleasant, will be limited to the point when he leaves school.
So my hope is that this was a bit of a freak incident. Like getting bit by a dog despite handling dogs all your life. Sometimes these things do just happen perhaps to remind us all that life isn’t always plain sailing.
Of course the final piece of advice I gave him was to pray to God. Not for a solution (i.e. to get rid of the bully) but for guidance and protection. I prayed myself, several times last night and this morning, that God would touch the heart of this other boy.
This boy should regret what he did and realise his mistake. I cannot change who this boy is, his upbringing, his attitudes, his motivations, his socio-economic status, or his faith (if he has any) but God can change all of these things for the positive… and the negative.
This path that this boy is on is a dangerous one and I hope, for his sake, that he doesn’t stray too far. There is nothing worse than a soul adrift in the sea of life only to be reeled in by the devil.