Stand­ing Up to Bul­lies

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE » I go to school and of­ten see some of my class­mates who are con­sid­ered “pop­u­lar” teas­ing my class­mates and friends. The vic­tims al­ways look very un­com­fort­able, and when­ever the teasers are told to stop, they give the ex­cuse, “I’m just jok­ing. Calm down.” In my opin­ion, it’s not a joke un­less the per­son re­ceiv­ing the joke is laugh­ing, as well. I try to tell them to stop when­ever I can but only find my­self be­ing able to speak if one of my friends is the one be­ing teased. I’m too timid to say any­thing if some­one I don’t know is on the re­ceiv­ing end of these “jokes” and if the class­mate teas­ing is one of the meaner peo­ple in my grade. What can I do in or­der for this to stop? It’s hard watch­ing peo­ple be un­com­fort­able and be­ing too scared to do any­thing. Thanks for your help.

— Shy

DEAR SHY » You’re right; these kids aren’t kid­ding. They’re bul­ly­ing and hid­ing be­hind the guise of jok­ing, which makes them cruel and cowardly all at once.

I en­cour­age you to jump in to say some­thing the next time you see them pick­ing on a class­mate. I know it’s not easy to stand up to mean pop­u­lar kids — but you, my friend, are braver than you re­al­ize. You’ve al­ready stood up to these jok­ers on be­half of your friends, which is more than many of us ever man­age to do. And I bet that af­ter you stand up for an­other class­mate once, you’ll feel so good that it will be even eas­ier to do it the next time. The bul­lies may try to re­tal­i­ate against you at first, but stay strong. They’re weak, and they’ll even­tu­ally back down. And the class­mates you de­fend? Rest as­sured that even if they don’t man­age to voice their grat­i­tude, they’ll re­mem­ber you for a very long time.

You’ve got a heart of gold and a spine of steel, so ku­dos, kiddo. That’s the stuff of great­ness.

For more in­for­ma­tion on what to do about bul­ly­ing, visit https://www.stop­bul­ly­ing.gov.

DEAR AN­NIE » I read the let­ter from “Mind Your Man­ners, Please,” a woman who was in­censed over a scream­ing child in pub­lic. I of­fer this as a re­tort. My wife and I have a child who is 3 years old and in the autism spec­trum. He of­ten has is­sues in cer­tain sit­u­a­tions that would be be­yond any par­ent’s con­trol. There are times when there is no amount of con­sol­ing, brib­ing, hold­ing or soft talk­ing that can quiet my child in pub­lic.

Does this mean I shouldn’t be al­lowed to take him school shop­ping? Maybe I should just not let my young son ever leave the house.

Maybe “Mind Your Man­ners, Please” should have some sym­pa­thy and un­der­stand­ing. Chances are the child she wrote about suf­fers from some men­tal chal­lenges.

A scream­ing child harms no one. Judg­men­tal adults, on the other hand, do, and they should be ashamed. That in­cludes those moth­ers you sur­veyed who have no un­der­stand­ing of what it’s like to have a child on the spec­trum.

Know the sit­u­a­tion en­tirely be­fore you judge oth­ers. —RW

DEAR RW » The moth­ers I sur­veyed de­fended the par­ents whose child was scream­ing in the su­per­mar­ket, so there may be more em­pa­thetic peo­ple out there than you think. But I want to print your let­ter, as it of­fers a valu­able per­spec­tive. When we feel our­selves rush­ing to judg­ment, we should re­ally ap­ply the brakes. Thanks for writ­ing.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and e-book. Visit http://www.cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dearannie@cre­ators.com.

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