I have a clear memory of the few times that I was bullied and I did not react. One very memorable incident took place when I was in kindergarten. I vividly recall when an older kid stole my lunch sandwich. I did not do anything at the time and it always bothered me that I did not react. A Few years later, the same kid, while we were playing fútbol, came and took the ball from us… this time I was not going to let him get away with it. I ran after him, threw myself on him and wrapped my arms around his legs… he stumbled and fell on his casted arm… he got up crying and asked me, “why would you do that?” I replied, because you took the ball from us! Finally it felt good to redeem myself and all my friends were very proud of me! The most important result is that this bully will think twice before attacking some other kids.
Sometimes it is hard to stand up and confront the abuser, but in my case the results were worth it. My confidence skyrocketed and I never allowed anyone else to treat me like a pushover.
At home, we constantly teach our kids that they have a voice and they have to make people hear them no matter what age or gender they are. Daniela, my oldest daughter had just switched schools. She is very cute (in my eyes), and sure about herself. She transitioned quickly and made friends easily. Some of the girls were not happy with her arrival and resorted to bullying Daniela.
We noticed, that her initial happiness and excitement started to deteriorate. Finally we understood from her that she was being bullied. This was unacceptable! I told Daniela the most defining moment in her life was now! She needed to confront the leader and put her in her place. It had to happen immediately, as soon as she arrived to school the next day. As a family we pumped her up the night before and in the morning Daniela was psychologically ready! Go Daniela, Go!
In the afternoon, when I picked her up from school, the first thing I asked, “What happened?” Daniela responded, “Nothing... every time I tried to approach her, she would run away.” (Normally a bully, can not accept confrontation)
I pulled over, gave the phone to Daniela and said you have to deal with it today. You call the girl now and tell her exactly how you feel about her attitude. Daniela called and told the mother what was going on then she spoke directly to the girl. The girl was surprised and tried to pretend she did not know what she was talking about and started crying. That was the end of the bullying… The impact on Daniela was 180 degrees! She became confident, and an outspoken beautiful girl.
Last week in Quito, we took our to kids to see LMFAO in concert. The kids were excited and had to show up early to get good seats. By 9 pm, the pre show began… 2 local DJs put on a great show and we enjoyed it and now we were ready for LMFAO. At that moment, everything began going down hill, a parade of bad acts kept coming one after another for about 2 hours. “Where is LMFAO?”.... At that point I got up looking for the event promoters, I was not able to find any of them to express my disappointment and demand an explanation. Just before midnight, Sky Blu from LMFAO came out to perform. That’s when we realized it was only Sky Blu and he was there to promote his new group. It lasted for about 45 minutes and we only had a small taste of the LMFAO songs. We arrived home late, frustrated and the kids exhausted. All for a switch and bait concert.
What surprised me the most was to find out how passive the audience was despite their disatisfaction. No one was willing to complain and they just accepted the situation. That truly shocked me! Is it Cultural or just simply trained to follow? Clearly the promoters took advantage of 5000 people and no one spoke! My kids, wife and friends were the only ones booing the performers.
Submissiveness or passiveness, if you will, is sometimes a cultural phenomenon that is taught at home and/or school. People become passive to events that unfold in their adulthood due to how they were raised and what part of the world. I do not want to sound like I am discriminating against different cultures but I present this as an explanation of some forms of passivity. For example I am married to Nesrin, who is from the Middle East. Her father has always fought for her to be strong and not allow things to happen to her but to make things happen. He always told her the cards were stacked up against women and he did not want her to be one that just accepted the situation. This was against what their culture represented and he was criticized for his beliefs. Despite of everything, he truly believed in standing up for your rights no matter what gender you are. You can see the results in his daughter, my wife, who is strong and independent.
Both, Nesrin and I want to make sure that we reinforce this strength of character and “believe in yourself” philosophy to our kids! We encourage our children to fight for themselves even if it is with a teacher or an adult. You are the only one that can protect your self worth! No one can disrespect you or minimize your self worth!
Kids tend to believe that it’s normal to be bullied and that it's something you have to go through as part of being a kid. For us it's definitely not normal and having to go through it can be devastating for the self-esteem. All 3 of our kids have been in similar bullying situations like Daniela. We constantly push them to stand up for themselves at school. We always tell them, at your age the worst thing that can happen is to have a bruised eye… at this age they are able to risk it all and it will have an immense impact on their personality. This is the time to mold their strength!
At the concert, I realized that the majority were willing to accept the status quo and believe there is nothing in their power that they can do!
Leaving the show, I told my friends that I was not willing to accept this insult of a show and was going to make sure that I confront the promoters. They looked at me and laughed… what are you going to do about it? Well, I did find the promoters name, cell and email. I wrote him an email of exactly how we felt and demanded a full refund. No results yet, but will keep after them!
Often, I strive to stop abuse! Sometimes I fail and sometimes I succeed! Most importantly, it sets an example for my kids!
The first time you confront a bully is always the hardest! But if you keep putting it off you will regret it forever! You need to stand up to anybody taking advantage and affecting your life… and feel that you are the “super person” you were meant to be!