Has your child ever been bullied?
As our children return to school I know firsthand the anxiety many parents feel as they are forced to release their little gentle souls into the potential path of campus bullies.
I was bullied for a short time as a rail thin kid growing up in Brooklyn after moving there from Belize. Even though it was 1969 my colorful, plaid, high water pants and blindingly bright, stripped shirts were still considered weird; almost as weird as my thick accent. That combination just screamed, “Bully me! Call me names! Chase me all the way home!”
Today I am a full-time author-speaker and run prejects.org, a non-profit dedicated to healing families. I do a lot of work with foster parents and children, and lead Foster & Kinship Care Education workshops in the California Community Colleges system. I also have three children of my own, including a 12 year old boy in the 7th grade.
Between 1969 and now I’ve learned something revelatory about bullying that can make a difference for your child and school this year.
A preject is a parental reject; a person who has been neglected, abused, or abandoned by at least one parent and consequently lives with a cracked, broken, or shattered soul. The preject personality is organized around preject syndrome, the leading characteristic of which is hostility.
Many, many bullies are actually prejects acting out in hostility as an expression of the pain of their parental rejection. The only way to effectively deal with this kind of bully is via adult intervention. (And our preject test, available at http://theprejecttest.com, can identify whether or not someone is a preject, and at what level of prejection they might be operating.)
There is no magic phrase or behavioral response (outside of meeting force with force) from the victim of this kind of bullying that will make a difference to the bully or stop the bullying behavior. The preject bully needs an adult who will speak to the parental loss the bully is experiencing, express genuine care and parental concern for the bully, set limits and consequences for the bully’s behavior, and hold the bully accountable.
Hopefully your school’s campus is populated with administrators, teachers, and campus life guardians who can provide this kind of adult intervention. Sadly, with more learning communities forced to battle greater problems with fewer resources, it’s likely that your school’s staff is stretched thin as it is. But every problem is an opportunity for impact.
You can make a difference!
Why not volunteer to be one of those adults who provides a presence on campus once a week specifically to make an impact in the life of a bully. Better still, why not organize a team of adult intervention volunteers to meet the bullying problem head on. Patrol the playground and lunch areas. Keep an eye out for aggressive behavior. It will certainly make your child’s campus a safer place to learn, and just might lead to a defining moment in a young preject bully’s life.