By Guest Blogger Ellen Bryant Lloyd
In recent years, stories about children who are bullied have increased exponentially. It breaks my heart every time I hear about a child who has been bullied to the point of being harmed by others or harming themselves. I have come to believe that children who bully other children are likely to become adult bullies if they are not redirected early in life.
Several years ago, I had a maddening encounter with someone I quickly determined was an adult bully. I was at an intersection, stopped about five cars back from a red light. To my right was a less busy cross street. Cars at this cross street were known to wait until the light at the larger intersection turned green and the traffic cleared before safely exiting on to the busier road. Apparently a gray-headed man, possibly in his early 70s, who was driving a brand new, luxury sedan at the cross street did not think that was necessary.
HONK! HONK HONK HONK!! HONK HONK HONK HONK!!! The incessant, urgent honks from the car got my attention. I immediately thought something was wrong or the driver was in trouble and needed assistance. I soon realized this was not the case. The gray-headed man urgently motioned for me to back up, in between his persistent honks. It took a moment for my brain to register that this man actually wanted me to back up my car to create an opening in the line of cars so he could cross in front of me and turn left.
I glanced in my rear view mirror and saw two cars closing in on my bumper. If backed up there was a good chance the car immediately behind me would hit me, which would possibly cause the next car to hit the car behind me. I looked at the man who continued, with red-faced anger, to honk and motion to me. I held my hands up and then pointed behind me to the approaching cars. This was clearly not the response he wanted.
The gray-headed bully suddenly pressed his accelerator and came barreling towards me. He was determined to make his way into the road and force me to back up. I was in disbelief and could not believe what was happening — he was going to hit me if I did not move, and fast. I immediately put my car into reverse and braced for impact from either the front or rear. It was shocking to think this bully had no regard for anyone else, much less their safety, other than himself. He selfishly wanted to move through, no matter the cost.
Miraculously, I backed up just enough at the exact time he whizzed by at full speed, mere inches from my car. As he drove past, I looked directly into his eyes and met the face of an extremely angry person. He glared back at me as though I had done something terribly wrong. I could not believe the nerve of that man. Thankfully, the car behind me was paying attention and slammed on brakes, avoiding my car.
I was so shaken that I had to pull into a nearby parking lot to compose myself. It was difficult to process how someone could be so obnoxious. So mean. So much of a bully.
I thought about this incident again later that day. It struck me that there was a good chance this gray-headed bully had started his bullying behavior at a much younger age. It made me think back to other bullies I had known in grade school, as well as those I have observed in schools and other environments with children over they years. I sincerely hope these bullies eventually chose a path of kindness as they matured. Sadly, this is not always the case for young bullies.
I believe it is important to teach our children about bullying behavior at a young age, and continue this discussion throughout adolescence. Not only is it important for children to recognize when they or people around them are being bullied, but to also recognize if they are, in any way, exhibiting bullying behavior. Nobody wants to believe “their child” could be a bully. It is the responsible, aware parent who accepts the possibility their child is not perfect and is willing to directly address bullying behavior in a constructive manner. Turning a blind eye or making statements like, “boys will be boys” or “girls can just be like that” are poor excuses, in my opinion. Bullying behavior must be stopped, the earlier the better. Let “be kind” be the mantra for your family, in all situations. Together, we can make a difference.
If your child is on either end of the bullying spectrum, please know there are many resources you can consult for guidance and help. Here are a few for your reference:
micheleborba.com (Dr. Borba is an an internationally recognized author, speaker, & educator on parenting, character education and bullying prevention)
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.
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