Bullying: the question of what to do

klwilliams asks the reasonable question what can non-bullied kids do about bullying. I don’t know how to make it stop, though I know there are intervention programs in schools–involving the whole school, from admin to kids–that have managed to do some good. _twilight_ has some useful-sounding suggestions.

But more and more, thinking about it, what one kid who can’t make it stop can do, I think? Is to be kind to the bullied kid. Talk to that kid the same way you’d talk to anyone else, like an ordinary human being. Don’t only do this when your friends aren’t watching–when there’s no risk to you. (I had a kid tell me in the second grade that she’d be nice to me, but only when no one was looking. I pretty much lost all respect for her that day.) Do it as a matter of course, day in and day out.

Not taking part is a start. But I think if all you do is don’t take part, to a bullied kid you’re just sort of part of the vast mass of kids who hate her, maybe not one of the worst tormentors, maybe not a ringleader, but not someone who’s any help or comfort, either.

I mean, think about it. Deciding “I won’t kick that kid” really is the minimum anyone who’s a halfway decent human being should do. Who notices all the people who don’t kick us as a matter of course? It might be huge to the person not doing the kicking, but the person not being kicked really isn’t going to be grateful, especially if they get kicked enough to bruise on a regular basis by others anyway.

But being kind and offering a smile and a hello and an occasional conversation? Even if you can’t stop the kicking, that’s something real, and in some small way can help, so long as the kindnesses don’t stop whenever someone else happens to be watching.

And if you try more, and don’t change anything? One thread that keeps coming up in the stories I’m reading is that the people who honestly tried to do something, even if they failed, were a help, and made a difference, because their actions told the kids in question that at least they were worth fighting for.

As adults we can keep talking about it and keep trying to be kind, too, to other kids and adults both. It’s not a solution. But it is a start.

Other thoughts and general discussion welcome here.

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