14 April, 2012

#GuestPost by Mona Schmitt, the Author of The Incredible Shrinking Bully

At what point does teasing become bullying?  There is lighthearted teasing and joking around.  Little boys will tease little girls they like because they are trying to get their attention and understand their own feelings.  Sometimes people just don’t mesh and are unkind to one another.  These situations are opportunities to help deal with and learn about the realities of life and aren’t really bullying.   I think for the most part, you let it roll off your back…..it’s a part of life.  But when it becomes a persistent, day after day event in someone’s life -- that is when it becomes a problem.  When it begins to effect how a person values his or herself -- that is when it has gone too far.    

No person should be made to feel so hopeless that they can think of no other solution than to check out of life, literally or figuratively. 

I had no idea when writing The Incredible Shrinking Bully, that it would allow me the opportunity to connect with some wonderful people.  I have had the opportunity to be in contact with people who have been horribly bullied themselves and they have shared how it has shaped their lives.  I have also had the opportunity to connect with parents of kids who have been or are being bullied.  The stories and the feelings are heartbreaking.

What is the solution to bullying?  I don’t know.

When I wrote the book, my hope was to give parents and educators an opportunity to start a dialogue about it at an early age, in hopes that awareness could prevent potential problems in the future.

 Do you agree with they way Bart handled the situation?  Maybe, maybe not. 

A few parents raised concerns when Bart considered hitting the bully back.  Bart had a true and natural reaction, but the parents have a fair and valid concern.  It’s the perfect opportunity to share your thoughts with your kids and even more important, take the opportunity to ask your kids what they think and what they are feeling. 

Where do you draw the line?  At what point do you teach your children to stick up for themselves and not allow someone to make them a victim?  I’m of the opinion that you do not teach your children to fight, but it is your responsibility to teach your children to defend themselves.  Defending themselves does not have to entail “violence”.  Defending themselves could include verbal tools, safety in numbers, self defense, etc.

Ideally, your child will tell you or another trusted adult
…..but sometimes they don’t. 
Sometimes kids are too embarrassed to tell anyone.  The bully may have threatened to harm them if they do tell anyone.

Ideally, the school will get involved and put an end to the situation
….but sometimes they don’t.   Many schools now have zero tolerance policies, but that has to be enforced in order to work.  One mother told me that when they reported it to the school, it only made the situation worse.  Her child is 8 years old and has been continually called names, been spit on, has been hit, etc.  Another parent told me, the school did very little to deal with the bullying.  His parents needed to keep pushing and pushing until an incident took place and they threatened to have the police involved.   Only then did the school begin to take action.  Another child was choked on the school bus.  I was told those schools have zero tolerance policies on bullying.  If you watch the news, you’ll find these are not isolated incidents.

In our minds, there are ideal ways for our children to handle things, but it’s not an ideal world, or this wouldn’t even be a topic of discussion.

Upon reading this book, it offers a perfect opportunity to address how you feel and an even better opportunity to ask your children how they feel.  At the end of the book, I have included a page entitled, Let’s Talk About What You Think.  There are ten questions to help start a conversation about bullying and it gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts on how to handle it.  One mother reported that when she finished reading the book with her daughter, her daughter began to tell her about things taking place at school and her mother knew nothing about them.   Sometimes it just takes opening the door. 

I was made aware of a resource available for teens being bullied and wanted to share the link:
It’s seems to be a great support system for older kids.

The Incredible Shrinking Bully was published by Chick-E Limited.

Chick-E’s website can be found at