Sunday, August 28, 2011

Being Bullied

Bullying is said to be the number-one non-academic issue that educators face. As a parent, I have not had to deal with this topic, and I hope I won’t ever have to, but in my younger years I was a victim of bullying twice in my life and both were related to my allergy. Bullying happens in many forms; Verbal, Phyical, Social (leaving someone out of a game or group on purpose), Extortion (stealing someone's money or toys), or Cyberbullying. It can happen at daycare, camp, school, work or just about anywhere. This is definitely a topic that can draw different opinions, and one that can create tension amongst parents especially when the bully and the victim’s parents are friends. In my opinion there are many different parenting styles, and usually several ways to handle the same situation effectively. Ultimately, the victim’s safety needs to be he priority.

I am writing about this topic for two reasons. First, to share my experience and second, to raise awareness that bullying does happen.

Both my experiences happened at sleep away camp (two separate summers). The first incident was when a bunk-mate threatened to put peanut butter in my mouth while I was asleep, and the second was when another bunk-mate told me she was going to eat peanut-butter M&M’s on my bed. If either of these situations happened today, I have no doubt they would have been handled differently than they were in the 1992 and 1994 respectively. To this day, I maintain that the girl who threatened to put PB in my mouth while I was asleep should have been sent home. She was forced to apologize, but that was about it. As the victim, I was frightened enough to bring it to the attention of the head staff who at the time failed by not sending her home.

Parents don’t know what goes on in the school yard or at the lunch table. Parents of kids with food allergies need to consider that their child’s food allergy may be something others poke fun or use against them. I believe it is a good idea for parents to always have an open dialogue with their kids and ask them daily how things are at school. Obviously if there are issues with bullying, it would be wise to address it with the school asap.

So good luck with the back to school week, and have a safe year!



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