I received my fair share of teasing as a child. Looking back on it from an adult’s perspective, it really wasn’t malicious teasing and it certainly wasn’t relentless. My relationship with family, my circle of friends and having an adequate social life made it where I wasn’t an outcast or an odd ball. But even still, there were days where the teasing did hurt more than usual and there were some extended periods of time where my family was struggling that the teasing compounded my misery. Rarely did I push back against it, as shy kids are apt to do; I simply accepted the lobs and moved on to the next day.
My experience is probably not unlike many others. I never experienced bullying and the teasing wasn’t an everyday occurrence. Once classes were done, I was free of the few individuals that subjected me to that day’s torture and was able to go about my way. Not once in my life did I ever feel that an adult should intervene. But had it gotten that bad I would hope that a teacher, parent or just an adult in the neighborhood would have intervened.
But recently I was reading a Facebook thread about a 9-year old boy who was teased so much because he came to school with a My Little Pony backpack that a teacher felt the need to talk with the child’s mother and requested that she never let the boy use that backpack again. Now, we didn’t have all of the details regarding this incident but the response from those commenting on the post was a bit disturbing.
Almost half of the people blamed the mother for allowing the child to even walk out of the house with the book bag. There were the “if a parent is smart they wouldn’t do that”; then there is the “where’s the father” responses; and of course there is the “feminizing of the black man” meme that has a strong presence on social media. Not having the full story people jumped to the negative whereas I thought, maybe the kid’s original back broke and this was the only book bag available; maybe the mother couldn’t afford to purchase a new book bag at that moment and figured it was better than nothing. I had an issue with the negative bent towards the parent.
I also had issue with hardly anyone bringing up the kids doing the teasing. There was a mindset of “what did you expect” as if the teasing was warranted. Some even split hairs in suggesting that we’re talking about teasing and not bullying. The reality for children is that the teasing can be just as painful as bullying if not more. Why aren’t more adults standing up to bullying rather that placing the responsibility on the victim to put stop to it?
I wonder if the reaction from adults would have been the same if the child was being teased for raising his hands in the class, having to wear glasses, or not wearing the latest fashion trend. There are is multitude of ways that children can find themselves as outliers amongst their peers, thus becoming a target for bullying. As adults our goal shouldn’t be to ensure these kids are promptly placed back into the crowd but encouraging others to follow their own path or at least show some tolerance/compassion to those that for whatever reason find themselves on the outside looking in.
(original image courtesy of: signs of times)by