It’s time to meet Mia.
In my story “B in the World” Mia is B’s nemesis and a bully. So you may ask—do I really want to meet her? Well, yes. Because Mia is only seven years old. If we were talking about adolescent bullying, that’s a whole other scenario. Are we really going to give up on Mia this early?
Mia has a lot of things happening at home that are making her act out. She spends most of her time at home alone—in fact, it seems to Mia that her parents are either pay no attention to her at all, or else they are so overly attentive that she feels suffocated. Sometimes it just seems easier to boss the kids at New Horizons School around rather than to work things out. At least that way, somebody notices her.
Bullying of all kinds, not just bullying of gender nonconforming kids, grows out of fear and frustrations in the bully’s life. Over attention, neglect, poverty or extreme wealth can sometimes all produce the same results. ANd before it spirals out of control, children need to be taught about bullying in early elementary school. They need to learn all the different forms bullying can take, how to resolve it, and how to deal with a bully.
For young children, here are some simple ways to explain about bullying:
- A bully is somebody who forces other people to do things they don’t want to do.
- A bully is somebody who hits other people.
- A bully is someone who takes or breaks other people’s property.
- A bully is someone who calls other people names.
Bullying is traumatizing not just for kids who are the targets, but for the child who uses bullying as a shortcut instead of developing social and coping skills. A child is bullying because solving problems— talking to people and working things out—is very hard for them. If an impulse is to hit or to hurt or call someone names, they need help learning to deal with these feelings in an appropriate way. Parents and caregivers need to acknowledge when their children are exhibiting bullying and help them learn to take responsibility for their behavior. Then maybe a Mia can turn into a Grace.
A pretty special anti-bullying program is The Bully Project—a social action campaign inspired by the award-winning film BULLY. The program’s goal is to spread a national movement to stop bullying and change a culture of bullying into one of empathy and action. Their goal is to reach 10 million kids or more, causing a tipping point that ends bullying in America. They’re a third of the way there.
Learn more about The Bully Project here.