Lisa A. Kramer

Author, Speaker, Creativity Facilitator

Bullies Win . . . Because we Let Them.

My daughter is in 8th grade. She plays the saxophone, and this year as a pre-freshman she was asked to join the high school marching band. She loved it.

She worked hard, practiced a lot, and improved as a musician.

Recently, she was assigned the 1st part in the music she is learning for the next Middle School concert. Yay!

Except that one girl, who used to play 1st, is now playing 2nd, and she is not happy about it. In typical middle school fashion, she is showing her displeasure in subtle but unpleasant ways--dirty looks, taking my daughter's seat at the lunch table (and forcing her to sit elsewhere), etc.

Luckily, I have a great kid who sees it for what it is. She finds it annoying, but isn't going to let it get her down.

I am proud of her. At the same time, though, I wonder if I should be teaching her to fight back.

We live in a world where the bullies have won. In this world, people who believe in kindness, listening, compromise, searching for truth, and peaceful approaches to disagreements are being pushed aside for whoever can scream the loudest, lie the most believably, or wield the biggest weapons and the most violent emotions.

We are told to cave, to roll over, to show our bellies and lick our wounds in silence.

And we do it.

This applies to politics. This applies to life. For some reason, it seems that as a society we have decided to let the bullies win at all costs.

I just read an article suggesting that HRC should release her electoral delegates to vote for an appropriate Republican candidate, because even though she won the popular vote by 2.5 million people if the electoral college chose her, she wouldn't be supported and would be a lame duck. WHAT? Translation, roll over, accept your loss, and put a person who didn't even come close to winning the nomination into power so that the party of BULLIES wins again (while removing the biggest orange bully of them all). Face it, in its current incarnation the GOP is a party of bullies. They weren't always like that, but that is how they have acted over the last 8 years, and that doesn't look likely to change.

But this wasn't supposed to be a political post. No, instead this is a personal one. I am wondering when enough is enough. When do I stop rolling over and start fighting back?

I have students who are bullies. One student in particular this year, who feels (without actual evidence) that I am being unfair and biased against her. She feels unwelcome in my class. There is nothing I can do or say to make her feel differently, because that is her perception. She also seems to think she knows the most of anyone in the room, and therefore I will always be grading her incorrectly. How is she a bully? In this class participation and attendance are a large portion of the grade. To me, part of participation includes attitude. If I grade her fairly based on that aspect, then her grade would naturally drop. If I do that, though, then she will most likely bring further complaints against me. Who has the power in this situation? Do I stand up for my right to grade as I see fit, or do I let the bully win?

You know the answer, and it is breaking my soul.

When do I stop rolling over? When do I say pacifism is not an answer anymore? When do I fight back and say bullies will not win?

I'm trying, but I can't do it alone.

So another bully wins again.

But I will no longer stay silent.