Some of my first memories were of my mother reading to me. As a young child coaxing me to take a nap could be a challenge for my mother. Reading me a story was a trick. With luck, a nap would result. Two books were readily available for our daily ritual; a Bible storybook and a book of fairy-tales. Throughout my life those naptime stories have come to mind during times of opportunity and challenge. Perhaps those stories laid the foundation of, “I think I can, I think I can” and my belief in miracles.
I was always drawn to the stories about mothers and their babies. The mother duck who patiently and protectively sat on her eggs waiting for them to hatch was a favorite. The sweet little down covered ducks appeared, one after the other, all looking the same. The last to hatch was not so sweet looking. It was big, gray and awkward – the ugly duckling.
Was hearing that story when empathy first stirred in my five-year-old heart? I can still tap into the feelings of sadness, hurt and isolation of the little duckling. The other characters in the story were mean. They were bullies.
I might not have known to use the label of bully, but I did recognize their actions as cruel and hurtful. The bullies made the duckling the target of their negative behavior and actions. Even though the duckling wanted the others to stop being mean they didn’t. The duckling suffered emotionally and physically. The behavior couldn’t be stopped.
While the above is not a legal definition of bullying it can be used as a checklist to see if bullying behaviors are being used or felt by someone you know. You can find your state’s law on bullying and multiple resources at stopbullying.gov.
I wish I had a magic wand to stop bullying. I’d wave it over my grandchildren as they head back to school. I’d wave it over my adult children as they go to work. I’d wave it over the highways and byways, the government, the corporate world, the courts … I’d wave it everywhere!
Well, we all know that can’t be done. However, education can be our magic wand. The more awareness there is about bullying; what it looks like and what can be done to prevent it, the closer we will come to stopping it.
Anti-bullying campaigns are bringing attention to the numerous faces of bullying. It comes in many forms and can be found at all levels. When cyber-bullying was added to the mix a mega-bully was unleashed. We are going to need a bigger wand.
Knowledge is prevention. Know the policy on bullying where your children attend school or college. Know what avenues are available for you to report bullying/harassment in the workplace.
Awareness is protection. Being present, spending time with and listening to our children, teens, friends and senior citizens in our lives can help us identify potential bullying concerns. Educate yourself on how to safely handle a bullying situation. Those who watch bullying and can’t do anything about it can also be traumatized. Knowledge is empowering.
Even if the little duckling had known how transformational time would be, it still would have suffered in the moment. In the end, the little duckling came out alright. Most of us do, but some don’t.
You can check out the full episode of Su Vida here: