Don’t be a bully, to bugs or people

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 23, 2012

I was driving down Elm Street near the police department earlier this week when I saw two female university students walking down the sidewalk towards downtown.

One stopped, turned around and walked back about five feet. She looked down at a spot in the grass, then she stepped on a small red dirt hill and smooshed her foot around in the clay.

A somewhat comical thought came to mind. “She’s a bug bully.”

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The other girl stopped, looked back, walked to the spot and did the same thing.

Then my thought became a little less comical as it turned toward the influence that peers have over one another.

Bugs or children, it works the same way. Unfortunately, there are those who are bigger, or stronger, or more popular who believe that asserting dominance over another person is funny. And then there are those who are even weaker who follow behind bullies and join in the teasing that can be horrific to kids who already feel self-conscious.

But bullying is no laughing matter. Researchers estimate that 20 to 30 percent of school-age children are involved in bullying incidents. It can begin as early as preschool and get even worse in transitional stations, such as middle school.

Victims of bullying may suffer both physically, if fighting is part of the bullying, and emotionally. Schoolwork can suffer. Victims can be afraid to go to school.

Those problems can last into adulthood as low self-esteem, depression and alcoholism.

Some studies have even reported that victims of bullying can become abusive spouses or turn to criminal activities.

So here, at the start of the school year, let’s be vocal about how we feel about bullies. Tell children about the impact bullying can have on others and teach them to stand up for kids they see being bullied. Let children know that you don’t agree with bullying and that you won’t stand for it.

And, if you know a child who is a victim of bullying, contact the school. Counselors and principals are there to help protect children. They are educators because they care about the development and well being of kids. If you know a child who has low self-esteem, boost it. Talk about the things they do well and brag on their talents – every child has a talent. Be encouraging.

Positivity, social skills and compassion begin for children as they watch adults. Let’s remember to be good examples, and keep in mind a lesson passed to me by my mother, a second-grade teacher, who learned it from her second-grade teacher.

When a little boy in my mother’s class stomped on an ant bed on the way to lunch, the teacher stopped him and spoke kindly to the class.

“Those ants weren’t hurting anybody. They were just doing what little ants do.”

Don’t pick on those smaller than you, just because you can.

Contact Robbyn at