Thursday, March 22, 2012

Does spanking count as bullying?

I was a bit of a tomboy as a kid, and began seventh grade with a hairstyle that might politely be called a pixie.

It might also be called a buzz cut.

The middle school sharks circled the first week of school, and before I knew it, kids were teasing me for looking like a boy.

As you might imagine, that novelty wore off in a hurry.

If you've met me in person in the last 20 years, you're probably snickering right now. I've grown long hair and comically big boobs (the latter, ironically, also became a source of teasing). The risk I'll be mistaken for a boy these days is about the same as the risk I'll be mistaken for a screaming hairy armadillo.

Yet there are mornings I get dressed and think, "I shouldn't wear that top, it'll make me look like a boy."

And then I go outside and slam my head in the car door until I stop being an idiot.

Jokes aside, it's staggering to me how long childhood taunting and bullying sticks with you. That's one reason I agreed to be part of writer Candace Ganger's End. It. Now. project.

You can read about her experiences with bullying, and learn how you can help here.

You can also check out this awesome video she made with some assistance from other writer pals:

My gentleman friend helped film my segments last weekend (a daunting task when I misread my required line, "end the loneliness" as "feed the lioness" and couldn't keep a straight face after that).

I was curious what his offspring knew of bullying, so I asked both of them if they'd learned anything about it in school.

They assured me they had.

"If it happens once, it's just someone being mean," explained the 10-year-old. "If it happens again, it's bullying."

They told me more about how to identify if I'm being bullied and what I should do if I encounter a bully. In the end, I felt pretty well-equipped to deal with any bullies that might come my way.

Then their dad gave me a light smack on the butt while we made dinner. I turned to the kids with a practiced look of indignation.

"Did you see that?" I demanded. "He's bullying me!"

The 10-year-old shook his head. "Not unless he spanked you yesterday, too." 

Right. Er, now might be a good time to end this conversation.

Seriously though, be sure to check out The Misadventures in Candyland to learn more about how you can stop actual bullying through the End. It. Now. project. She offers oodles of ways you can help, including Signing the petition, Downloading conversation cards about bullying, Downloading information on how to talk about bullying, Sharing the video, and much more.

Have you ever been bullied? How has it impacted you as an adult? Please share.

I'm going to go see if my gentleman friend is up for a bit of bullying.


Anonymous said...

Good cause.

I was bullied for years as a kid. I just figured, that's life. But when I think it might happen to my own children now. Nuh-uh, no way.

Michelle Wolfson said...

They did an anti-bullying week at my 6yo's school and when I asked what he had learned, he looked very serious and said, "Try not to be a target." He's SO CUTE!!!

But then he also made me very proud when he said, "Don't be a bystander either. Try to be an ally." When I asked how, he answered, "You could just go up to the person being bullied and say something like, 'Hey, come one, why don't we go play over there.'"

6yo is so wise.

Unknown said...

I find this very interesting. My son has been the target of what I see as bullying since he started school as well as in the neighborhood he lives in. I understand his pain because I myself was bullied during my school years (Red hair and an overbite is a neon light for bullies.). I would love to help in any way I can.

Skye said...

Wow. It's cool that the kids know so much about bullying and identifying it and what to do if it happens.

I was bullied in school starting in about 3rd grade and it didn't stop until 9th grade when finally everyone found something better to do, like date. I'm still wary of people and I still get upset about remembering things from back then. And I still tend to think that if I just do the "right" thing, then everything will be okay --- as if I had caused the bullying and could control it if I just ....

I think it affects everyone when just one person is bullied. It makes everyone who watches it and tacitly approves of it bullies by default (this is what happened with me ... a few bullies and a lot of their friends who just watched).

I wonder what the bullies think or feel about it when they are grown up? Does it affect them or do they completely forget?

Unknown said...

P.S I shared the video to my facebook page in order to help call more attention to it. I hope it helps.

Matthew MacNish said...

I'm so mad at myself that I didn't get my video to Candace in time. I would have been the only bad-ass/hairy/bald/fat/sweaty/scary dude in the movie. Still, I got it to her eventually. It should be on her FB wall.

Bullying is wrong, and it has to stop. As responsible adults, we have to get involved.

Allie Sanders said...

I was painfully smart, pathetically shy and always had my face buried in a book. Add in the fact I would only wear hideous floral dresses to school, yeah, I was bullied. It got so bad in elementary school I saw a therapist and switched schools, twice.

The biggest thing that's stuck with me all these years from that experience is now I'm always on the attack. It's hard for me to make friends because it's now my nature to jump first before I can get jumped. I also expect people to treat me different because I am different...from everyone in my town, not from everyone in the world which is what I always need to remind myself. I work hard at being a nice person and being feminine and fun when mostly I want to be invisible.