Bullying: A Big Complicated Problem with Many Simple Solutions

If each one of us untangled one string at a time...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Serena... Accomplished Tennis Player and Bully (click here)

Can you imagine being the line judge at the U.S. Tennis Open when Serena Williams came at her telling her that she'd like to shove the (expletive) tennis ball down her (expletive) throat? It wasn't funny but I did have a little laugh when she said that "she DID NOT tell the line judge that she was "going to kill her."

Call me crazy but I think a tennis ball shoved down the throat might actually be fatal.

But maybe the most disturbing of the entire incident was Serena's attitude at the press conference immediately afterwards. She was still feeling pretty tough and actually laughed it off and sneered at some of the reporters' questions.

Bullying behavior as far as I can see.

After a few days and probably a few dozen panicked phone calls from her publisher and other endorsers, she decided to properly apologize. I don't buy it but I do have to thank her for being one of the clearest and most visible examples of bullying we've come across.

Congratulations, Serena.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Bully in the Making

Today a friend of mine is in the odd position of confronting a 9 year-old bully in the making. Yikes. It's a tricky situation. She's related (by marriage). The only positive for her is that she's not blood.

My friend has caught her in the act of being really mean repeatedly. She goes out of her way to tell other kids that they're not liked and fires off the list of reasons. Then she spreads rumors among her little friends and is already creating a gang mentality. She's very "cute" physically so her family thinks of her as "precious." The kiss of death.

Sunday was the last straw. She rode her bike up to my friend's son who is much older than she is and, in an effort to impress her little friends, went after him verbally. He tried to laugh it off but it wasn't cool at all.

What to do next!? First, I advised my friend not to do anything until she was completely calm. She's given it two days.

Next, it's time to strategize. I actually went to a few Web sites for her and didn't find anything really on target but what I did find is an article about bullies and empathy. It's challenging because the "little bully" doesn't seem to have much empathy. How do you get them to understand?

Luckily, the child's parent is the one who has to do the heavy lifting and teach her child about right and wrong. The only thing my friend can do is handle the situation to accomplish what she needs to accomplish.

This is what she doesn't want to happen. She doesn't want to start a family war and she doesn't want to embarrass her son.

This is what needs to happen. "Precious" needs to squirm.

I'll keep you "posted." Literally.