Something happened yesterday that just hurt my heart. I found out that my oldest (who I will refer to as Kay) has been getting bullied in school for about a week, and this is only the second week of school. This student has been threatening my child by saying things like: she would shoot my child in the head, tape her mouth shut, tie her up to things, and to meet her in the bathroom. It hurt my heart to know she has been dealing with this for a week before seeking help at her school, and for not coming to her father and I. I want so badly to protect my kids from this kind of ugliness in this world. I cried as I told her, my heart hurt knowing she was dealing with this.
It started when lockers were a signed to the students. We had bought Kay a locker shelf for her to use. This student saw our daughter’s locker shelf and proceeded to tell Kay to give the shelf to her. My daughter responded by telling this student that she could go buy her own locker shelf; thinking the girl was trying to joke around with her. The perfect response in my view. This student was in half of Kay’s classes, and continued to tell Kay to give her things…for which Kay did not do. Kay tried so hard to be this girl’s friend and to be nice to her. Kay even made a bracelet for this student as a show of kindness. When this student mistook Kay’s kindness for weakness by saying she wanted it in a different color, Kay gave the bracelet to her teacher instead. It was at this point that Kay realized this student wasn’t going to stop bullying her, and went to the teacher for help.
During the process of the school resolving this issue Kay learned that this student’s mother had passed away a few months ago. My daughter’s heart felt compassion for this student. My heart broke for her as well as for my daughter. Both the school and I have made it clear to Kay this fact does not excuse the things this student has said to her; it merely explains why this student was acting in such an ugly way. Her heart is full of hurt right now. I feel blessed that my daughter at such a tender age can understand that sometimes a person’s ugly behavior comes from hurt they carry around in their heart, and that can require compassion. Compassion should not be confused with weakness. Although I did express showing compassion to this student, I made sure to make it clear to Kay to not tolerate the ugliness this student was showing her. There is no excuse for the ugliness she was displaying towards Kay. The school has made this student change locker locations, and have changed her schedule so that Kay and her are no longer in the same classes.
Yes, I understand this student’s ugly behavior was the cry of a hurting heart; however, it still is no reason to treat others in such an ugly way. My heart truly hurts for this student’s loss. I wish I could hug this student, and let her know that it’s okay for her to feel the hurt that she is feeling; however, there are better ways to deal with this deep hurt she is going through.
It was also revealed that this student is being bullied by another student as well. She admitted that it didn’t feel good to be bullied. The assistant principle asked her how does it make her feel knowing how bad it feels when you are being bullied, and that she was doing that to someone who cares for her. As the student cried she replied that it felt worse.
These are the lessons I believe my child learned. This student isn’t a horrible, ugly person. This student is hurting, and in need of compassion and guidance in dealing with her loss. My child learned, it’s not okay for ANY ONE to talk to her the way this student was talking to her. She learned she could trust her teachers and principles to listen to her when she says she is being bullied, and that they genuinely care about her. She learned that you don’t necessarily speak up because you are afraid of the person following through on their threats; although that is more than enough of a reason to seek help. Nor do you stay silent because you feel they won’t do the things they are threatening to do, but because threats are not okay for someone to be making towards her and that alone is reason enough to speak up and tell someone. She got to see that her father and I meant it when we said we want to know when someone is bullying her, and that we want her to come to us with these issues.
Kay has a heart of gold. She has an amazing gift of being able to show love, compassion, empathy and a genuine sense of caring for others. While my heart hurts for both Kay and this other student; I am beyond proud of the way in which Kay handled not only the situation but how she handled herself in the midst of it. I did let her know, if something like this were to ever happen again to not wait so long to speak up and tell someone. The longer we wait, the more likely it is that our voices will be silenced by fear.
What I would like for all of us to learn from this; sometimes people are ugly to us because they don’t know how to deal with the hurt they are carrying around in their hearts. This may require compassion towards this person with a strong dose of healthy boundary setting. We can have both compassion for someone, and still stand-up for ourselves and others. No matter the hurt someone carries around with them, it is no excuse for them to treat others poorly. Our words matter; our behavior towards others matters!