LeadershipPerspective

A Bullying Quandry

I was cruising Facebook today checking out what friends were up to, reading various articles on the newest Cat Fads and basically procrastinating website updates because I find them overwhelming.

As my mind was about to explode from the pressure of not doing what I was “supposed to be doing” and “if I see another crazy cat I’m going to scream” I found a post from one of my very first Kindergarten friends. Ahhh…the glory of Facebook connections.

He was asking the world at large how to navigate his current¬†quandary¬† Apparently, he just got a call from the school principal that his 12 year old daughter laid out a boy in class…because he continually called another student a fat@ss. He teaches his kids that bigotry and bullying stop at themselves. He is a rather large, ex-football playing black man who dealt with bullying while growing up in our largely white, middle class, hippy town of northern California.

His daughter told him “Dad! I had just had enough of his stupidity!”

He admits he is concerned, but also quite proud. The comments that followed were all along the lines of “YAHOO! Take her out for dinner!” and “I’m proud of her. Bullying needs to stop.”

I include myself in that reaction. I immediately posted that she was my new hero!

Then I had to stop to think…why is it OK to react out of “I’ve had enough!” when it’s against something a group sees as “negative”. Doesn’t that just keep the cycle of reaction and frustration going? Perpetuate the cycle of “good” and “bad”? This is the same thing as labels, it just happens that this 12 year old girl could be placed on the side of “acceptable heroism.”

But how do we discipline someone who has the courage to stand up for the “little guy”, or in this case, a rather large little guy? How do we say Congratulations! and also teach refinement of reactions…show them self restraint without cutting the spirit at the core?

The core of my teaching is “redefine normal”. The problem with that is that it is messy. Is it any better to have a 12 year old honor student kicking the butt of another kid who may not know any better? I guess it’s not “better”. That’s the heart of the matter. It just IS.

And it IS messy.

In the mean time, I don’t think anyone will be calling anyone else fat on the middle school playground…at least while the honor student is around.