Sunday, August 21, 2011

School Bullying

What is it in the human psyche that allows us to bully?  It seems to be a need to be more powerful than the other person; it seems to be a way of survival for some people.  Kids do it to make themselves look tough and to gain popularity.  Most grow out of it, but plenty don't; the bullying just becomes more subtle and cunning.  We've all experienced bullying in one form or another, and perhaps some of us have done the bullying ourselves.  It's not great to be at the rough end of a bully and worse when you can't stick up for yourself; even worse if you aren't part of a crowd, but are a loner for one reason or another.

Often our kids become loners, not through any fault of their own, but because their peers outgrow them and move on.  The knowledge gap becomes wider.  Being the one left behind often means a vulnerability to bullying.  This can take several forms from snide, or harsh comments, laughter, mockery, pushing and shoving.  But it can also take the form of being persuaded to do things for the fun of the protagonist.  Taunting can make our children very quickly enraged, creating nothing but amusement for the others, and often leaving our kids to take the blame.

Our children often take the blame for things going missing - particularly in the classroom - and once it is known that not only food, but anything else, can be blamed on our kids, they will carry this burden for as long as they are there.  Nothing easier to automatically blame our kids for anything that's gone missing!  Trouble is, that it often is something that has taken their fancy, and the trouble with that is that our kids are strongly into denial ('it wasn't me!!!').  

If bullying is something your child is having to cope with; get help.  If it's at school, make time to talk to the teachers, make sure they understand what is happening, what it means to have PWS and how they can help and support your child.  Teach your child not to respond, but to walk away from the bully (easier said than done, I know), and to tell a teacher they trust.  Help them understand that it isn't telling tales, but that often the only way to get a bully to stop is to get help from an adult.

I've seen bullying happen in all sorts of ways, and watched my daughter having to deal with it herself. It usually takes place at the swimming pool when having PWS can attract all sorts of unkind comments and stares.  I've seen her front up to the bully and tell them she "can't help being the way I am - I've got Prader-Willi Syndrome".  It doesn't necessarily stop the taunts, but stops the bully in their tracks for a few moments!  I've heard her tell people to stop staring at her, and I've heard her use a few choice swear words as well.  It doesn't help, of course, and often requires quick intervention before she goes any further. 

I think bullying has become more subtle, more hurtful, than ever before particularly cyber-bullying through texts, social media like Facebook and Twitter, and email.  It's a problem for parents and schools world-wide and it seems as soon as we think we've started to stamp it out, it flares up in another guise.  Parents are their children's best advocates, and for those with PWS, we are the lifelong advocates.  Let's stand up to bullying!


  1. Very well said! My son Derek, born with PWS, is now 21 years old, and the cruelty has followed him his whole life. Perhaps what is most disappointing and hurtful is the meanness that comes from our own family and friends.

    We live in a small town where everyone knows one another, where the children grow up together from pre-school until high school graduation. Derek started his young life with many friends, but as the years rolled by and his "differences" were more apparent, he was dropped from the social circle. He wasn't invited to parties, no one wanted him on their team, he didn't have a seat in the limo going to prom. Would it have been so difficult for the children's parents to encourage them to include my son in their activities? What a wonderful opportunity to teach their children patience, kindness and acceptance!

    Unfortunately, bullying also comes in the form of exclusion, and this form is perhaps the most widely accepted and practiced form of bullying of all.

  2. Thank you so much for sharing; you are right, ignorance is one of the worst kinds of bullying.

  3. I have four children that attend school in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Over the last two years our children have been attacked, abused, and attempts have been made by the school system to down-play the events to protect Buncombe County School employees. As as result I have created a petition to try and change things. Please sign the petition of you are willing. I need signatures to make a change.

    Moderator, please let this link be published. I really need signatures on my petition to present to the school board in Buncombe County, North Carolina. Your kindness and compassion is greatly appreciated.

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