Part of the general cleaning of my son's bedroom which I did last week was segregating the old toys for donating. I'm glad that Jollibee went to their school last week and distributed bags for the boys' donations. The old books and toys that the school has collected will be given to two public school beneficiaries. We had to make two batches in bringing the toy donations to school because Ralph really had a lot of old toys to give. The Jolly Toy Scout bag, scarf, and pin are for my son to keep. We plan to do this every year. Kudos to Jollibee for this wonderful Christmas project. It was not only a fun extra curricular activity for the kids but it also instilled the value of sharing to our young children.
Image courtesy of http://staff.harrisonburg.k12.va.us/~jgamble/
As a parent, I try not to be over-protective of my son. I believe that even this early, he needs to learn to overcome his own battles. I do not entirely leave it that way thought. During meals that we spend together, I ask my son about the happenings in school. Most of what he tells me are good news and the usual stuff. There are other times though when he tells me about instances of teasing and name calling. When I ask him about what he does to those who tease him, he tells me that he tries to outsmart them by making witty remarks. That's how we taught him to react, never on physical revenge. We taught him how to fight back but never stooping down to the bully's level.
My son had experienced a physical form of bullying last school year. It was a boy riding the same bus service as him. The boy was in the same grade level but he was a year older and way bigger than my son. I ignored the initial incidences of pushing and mild physical attacks. As a teacher of young kids, I am familiar that boys can really get rowdy when left alone. I only wrote a letter to the school authorities and to my son's adviser when Rap went home one day with bruises on his chest. He tried to deny that he was physically hurt by his bully but I knew he was not telling the truth. There was a footprint marked in front of his school shirt that made me convinced that he was kicked in the chest. After a long talk, he eventually told us the truth. My husband was almost in rage but I felt that it was not a good idea to blame the bully. Bullies are emotionally unhealthy persons. They have personal issues that they cannot resolve. I was able to validate my theory when I learned the family background of my son's attacker. I told my son about it and taught him to understand why his bully acts that way. We taught him to befriend his bully and try reverse psychology. We were still vigilant for future physical attacks and enrolled him in Taekwondo training just to be sure. Our only rule was that his counter attacks should be defensive and never offensive and to seek the help of their Assistant Principal for Discipline.
Recently, the Philippine Women’s University School of Social Work released reports of a study they made and it showed that one in two children in the Philippines suffer from bullying whether physically or verbally. The study was conducted last year on 2,442 children in 58 public schools. Among the findings were facts that showed at "least five out of 10 children in Grades 1-3, seven out of 10 in Grades 4-6 and six out of 10 in high school have experienced some kind of violence in school."
These numbers do not tell us that school is not safe anymore for our children. It simply tells us that each day, more and more children become neglected by their parents and caregivers. Bullying is just a coping mechanism of children who crave for their parents' love and attention. These bullies need help as much as their victims do. Judging them will not make a difference, understanding them will make a huge impact for change.
I am glad that my son is not so much affected by the bullying he experiences in school. Being busy in extra-curricular activities gave him more confidence in school. Our constant guidance made him more understanding of the other children around him. He needs that from us since he is our only child.
How about you? Do you have a bullying experience? What have you done about it?