Bullying

I’m sure that everyone has been waiting anxiously to learn what two words from Evening Television Language were used in Jane’s anti-bullying assembly today.

After posting the story about the recorded phone message from the school, I got some feedback from other district parents. One fellow middle school parent predicted that the words were derogatory terms for homosexuals and promiscuous girls. One high school parent informed me that her daughter couldn’t remember any bad words from the video. Another told me that her daughter said one of the words was slut.

This morning, I told Jane to be sure she had pen and paper at the assembly. “I want you to write down any candidate words you hear.”

She rolled her eyes at me.

“I’m serious! You are performing research for a blogger! I need accuracy. Please!”

She added a slow head shake to the eye roll. “I’m not taking pen and paper, mom. I’ll use my phone. If we don’t get out of here soon, I’ll be sitting in the back anyway. No one will see me.”

I didn’t get a chance to talk to her until 7:00 this evening as I drove her and her friend Jennifer to Stardusters.

“Did you get the two words?” I asked as we climbed into the truck.

“Yep.” She nodded. “But it was three words.”

“What?! THREE words? You mean he lied to me on that phone message? Three words changes everything! I shouldn’t have let you see it.”

She rolled her eyes at me.

“So what were they?”

“The A word, the B word, and slut.”

“Oh. Well, maybe he didn’t consider ‘slut’ to be Evening Television Language. Maybe that’s just afternoon television language.”

She rolled her eyes at me.

“Was it good?”

“Yeah. At the end, we could sign this banner as a pledge not to bully and if we did, we got this anti-bullying bracelet. I was walking down the hall after the assembly and I saw this guy shove this other guy up against a locker and start cussing him out. The guy against the locker is a known bully. And they were both wearing the bracelet. I found it richly ironic.”

“That’s why I have my doubts that those assemblies do any good,” I said. She nodded. After a moment of silence, I amended my thought, “Maybe it makes a difference with the bystanders. The kids that see bullying happen. Maybe it makes them more likely to speak up.”

“Yeah, maybe. There’s this one kid that if you bully him, you get suspended from school.”

“Because he’s been picked on so much?”

“Yeah.”

“He cries in band because he’s always being bullied,” Jennifer added. “I sit right next to him.”

“He’s… He wears his pants really high up and… his guardians don’t have a lot of money. That’s part of the problem. His guardians. He doesn’t have parents. They don’t have a lot of money so he wears these cheap black shoes with really thick soles and he’s kinda queer [Note: she means ‘weird’, not ‘gay’]. Last year, he actually proposed to Mrs. Duncan. I mean, with like a ring and everything. And he’s got a funny walk.”

The girls told me this in really sad tones. They weren’t making fun of him. They were just stating a heart-breaking reality. Jane later shared that she cried during the assembly, saying that some of the stories in the video were really sad. I couldn’t help but wonder if the anti-bullying video, like so many things in life, was simply preaching to the choir.

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One thought on “Bullying

  1. It probably is mostly preaching to the choir, as you say, but I’d also like to think you’re correct about it making a difference in how the bystanders respond. Here’s hoping.

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