mean girls, parts 1 & 2

We’ve had a couple of run-ins with bullying in the past week.

On Thursday evening, while I was out with the Potato, a neighbor stopped by to tell landisdad that the Bee had upset his kindergartener daughter during the after-school program that day. It seems that the Bee and a 2nd grade girl had been ‘grading’ the younger kids on their artwork, and had given this girl an F-minus (with a really absurdly large number of minuses). Landisdad talked to her about it, and she initially gave the ‘it was just a game’ answer, and then admitted that what they had done was hurtful. She wrote a note of apology to the girl, and gave it to her the next day.

Then on Saturday, the Bee had rehearsal. I went to pick her up at the end, and overheard the directors telling all the kids that they are heretofore banned from bringing Nintendo DSes to rehearsal, and that any found there would be confiscated and returned only to a parent. The DS, evidently, has some kind of IM-like chatting capability, where one can send a message–or forward a sent message–to others in the room who have the game.

It seems that some of the kids had been hijacking other kids’ screen names, and ‘anonymously’ writing snotty things about the people who were onstage at the time. As we left, the Bee told me that she and two other girls had been the ones who reported it, although as she said, “I’m sure the teachers already knew about it, since the whole room was buzzing about it.” (One of her friends had had her screen name hijacked and abused in this manner.)

It’s the first experience of this kind of high-tech bullying that either of us have experienced in person, and it made me really happy that we haven’t given in to the Bee’s pleading for a DS. I told the Bee that she did the right thing by reporting it to a teacher. Then, of course, she asked me for a DS again.

It’s an odd perspective, to have the two experiences of bullying so close together, one perpetrated by my kid and one reported by her. It makes me think that the practical existence of the bully is not one that is entirely one-sided–except in extreme circumstances, no one is a bully all the time.

But anyone can be a bully in a moment. The trick is to teach our kids that those moments aren’t acceptable, not that they themselves are unacceptable.

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February 11, 2008. growing up.

5 Comments

  1. thordora replied:

    Oh I’m not looking forward to this, especially since VIvian always wants to please others….sigh…

    but can I have a Nintendo DS? I’ll be good, i swear! 🙂

  2. K replied:

    I’m completely unprepared to parent in the electronic age. Luckily the kids (8 & 5) so far haven’t even asked for any of that stuff…but I know it will be coming soon.

  3. Susan replied:

    You are so right…anyone can be a bully in a moment.

    I’m feeling oddly reassured as Curious Girl can sometimes be emotionally bullying at school (if you do X, I’ll be your friend” is something she says too often), and I’ve been worried about what trends this might predict. But perhaps the momentary bullying is a way of working out various emotions/social issues. THe peer pressure component seems important (so good for Bee for reporting what she did)–I don’t know how, exactly, we encourage kids to encourage each other to make the right choice when the bully impulse kicks in. (although starting to talk about it young is probably part of the solution).

  4. Anjali replied:

    It’s a very fine line, indeed. Not at all looking forward to that part of parenting.

  5. Comfort Addict replied:

    Right, Landismom. We all (save saints and deities, I guess) have our good and bad sides. Despite our best efforts, the bad side can and does come out sometimes. The important thing is to realize it, know that it’s wrong and try to do better. With your and Landisdad’s help, I’m confident that the Bee will develop this consciousness.

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