Backroads

Finding out your kid used to be a bully and dealing with everyone involved

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I suppose this is more theoretical advice-asking than anything, and actually on behalf of another person. About two weeks ago, something very big and very ugly went down in one of my social media circles and sort of spread from there. The current state is a set of unhappy parents. As in bawling, depressed parents.

Growing up there was a family of girls in my ward, and to this day I will confidently state I didn't care for any of them. They were mean. There is no other word for it, they were mean, nasty, and cruel. Because I was just off the age bracket for them, I didn't really deal with them much, but I am aware of a lot of horrible stuff that went down, particularly because of one certain sister. Some girls (my sister included) were terrified to go to school and church because of them. Another girl attempted suicide (was stopped) However, their parents seemed to have no idea of their behavior.

Anywho... fast forward to adulthood. Two weeks ago, the mother (a lovely, wonderful woman) posted a birthday message on social media regarding The One Girl. This girl is now married, but has fertility issues and has only had one child who is now 10 years old. Her mother posted a happy birthday message and talked about how wonderful and spiritual her daughter was, and how gracefully she has dealt with life trials, what a great example of Christ and service she was, etc. etc. It was all quite nice.

So, someone who was still reeling from childhood chimed in, and not in a positive way. She listed every nasty thing this Girl had done to her growing up. And, sadly enough, others joined in and it snowballed. The mother watched as people called Girl a hypocrite, a bully, all other sorts of names, all sorts of accusations including her infertility is a punishment for her behavior, so on and so forth. The post was taken down, but the damage is done.

My mother still knows the parents, and they are inconsolable. They honestly had no idea any of this stuff had happened, how much of it is true, or why anyone would bring it up now after so many years. 

My question is, what do you say to someone who has just been threw this? How do you comfort her? If you were that person, how would you deal with that sort of assault?

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1 hour ago, Backroads said:

I suppose this is more theoretical advice-asking than anything, and actually on behalf of another person. About two weeks ago, something very big and very ugly went down in one of my social media circles and sort of spread from there. The current state is a set of unhappy parents. As in bawling, depressed parents.

Growing up there was a family of girls in my ward, and to this day I will confidently state I didn't care for any of them. They were mean. There is no other word for it, they were mean, nasty, and cruel. Because I was just off the age bracket for them, I didn't really deal with them much, but I am aware of a lot of horrible stuff that went down, particularly because of one certain sister. Some girls (my sister included) were terrified to go to school and church because of them. Another girl attempted suicide (was stopped) However, their parents seemed to have no idea of their behavior.

Anywho... fast forward to adulthood. Two weeks ago, the mother (a lovely, wonderful woman) posted a birthday message on social media regarding The One Girl. This girl is now married, but has fertility issues and has only had one child who is now 10 years old. Her mother posted a happy birthday message and talked about how wonderful and spiritual her daughter was, and how gracefully she has dealt with life trials, what a great example of Christ and service she was, etc. etc. It was all quite nice.

So, someone who was still reeling from childhood chimed in, and not in a positive way. She listed every nasty thing this Girl had done to her growing up. And, sadly enough, others joined in and it snowballed. The mother watched as people called Girl a hypocrite, a bully, all other sorts of names, all sorts of accusations including her infertility is a punishment for her behavior, so on and so forth. The post was taken down, but the damage is done.

My mother still knows the parents, and they are inconsolable. They honestly had no idea any of this stuff had happened, how much of it is true, or why anyone would bring it up now after so many years. 

My question is, what do you say to someone who has just been threw this? How do you comfort her? If you were that person, how would you deal with that sort of assault?

Backroads, this is the reason I don't like to "friend" anyone who I knew back when I was twelve. I don't do so with cousins either. Too much? Maybe. But this is why. I don't want people to judge me at 34 by what I did when I was 12. And my goodness, did I do a lot. 

I've been bullied, and I was a bully. I did things I don't want my parents to know of and I've done things they would be very proud of. In other words, I was/am human. A combination of good qualities and like everyone else-I had my faults and still have them. 

I think it's very important to remember that given enough information, I can make anyone-anyone-look like a truly horrible person. If I talked to people who hate you and people you've gotten angry-boy, can I make you look like a scumbag. Yes, even you reading this. Anyone. In fact something I've noticed is that the more people see themselves as "holy" and "pure"-the more corrupt and evil they usually are. Good people don't walk around saying they are good. It's the same with being humble. Humble people don't say they are humble either. 

I'd tell the mother and father the same thing. I would also add: "Look, your daughter has done things that obviously aren't moral or decent. But they happened years ago. It doesn't mean it's time to downplay it or justifies your daughters actions. Hopefully she's grown and learned from the past experiences and will not allow her kids to behave that way."  I'd tell her the same thing, basically. 

Edited by MormonGator

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2 hours ago, Backroads said:

IMy mother still knows the parents, and they are inconsolable. They honestly had no idea any of this stuff had happened, how much of it is true, or why anyone would bring it up now after so many years. 

My question is, what do you say to someone who has just been threw this? How do you comfort her? If you were that person, how would you deal with that sort of assault?

Say to the mother?  Just throw your arms around her and say this doesn't change your opinion of her.  If you have stories of surprising family shame that you can share without gossiping, empathize away.

What should the daughter do to deal?  Well, like Gator, I've said, been, and done things in my past I'm not proud of.  One person brings them to my attention from time to time.  I wholeheartedly suggest the following to the daughter: 

* Own, admit.  If there's truth to the accusations, if you did those things, then admit such.  Maybe not publicly, but absolutely to the people voicing the pain, and might as well include mom and anyone else who saw the outburst.  

* Maybe explain, but don't defend or justify.  Now is not the time to say something like "Yeah, I did those things, but you don't know the hell [relative] was putting me through at the time!"   Maybe this: "Yes, I remember those days.  I was taking all my issues out on everyone else, rather than just deal with them."

* Apologize, offer amends.  Honestly, responding to these people admitting the stuff you did, validating their hurt, may be the only thing needed.  

* Understand past actions don't define you.  They describe what you did.  No, you were not a horrible little monster, but maybe you did some horrible things.  Your actions don't define your worth, your value.  God does.  Find me the scripture that says "Jesus died for our sins, but not Ashley's, because dang, she was such a shrew".  See, that's not how it works.  

* Think charitably of the people who blew up.  Being stuck in the pain of something that happened more than a decade ago is a sad, horrible thing.  Letting past instances of cruelty make someone publicly cruel?  That's a hard place to be.  There is also a teeny-tiny chance they might be making this face:

 

IMG_1654.PNG

 

Edited by NeuroTypical

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What can you do? Just be pleasant and kind. Nothing that you could do or say is going to change the situation. How could you heal that kind of pain? 

Bad things happen. Life goes on.

i was teaching young adults. One of the young sisters was a vicious spiteful bully to the newly arrived refugee young adults. I put my foot down. I informed the Sunday School president, who refused to deal with the situation as the parents were local pillars of the church. I called the parents myself. The mother who is an angel in most situations made it clear that she did not believe me. Well that young woman is now inactive and unemployed and still living with mom and dad. 

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13 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

What can you do? Just be pleasant and kind. Nothing that you could do or say is going to change the situation. How could you heal that kind of pain? 

Bad things happen. Life goes on.

i was teaching young adults. One of the young sisters was a vicious spiteful bully to the newly arrived refugee young adults. I put my foot down. I informed the Sunday School president, who refused to deal with the situation as the parents were local pillars of the church. I called the parents myself. The mother who is an angel in most situations made it clear that she did not believe me. Well that young woman is now inactive and unemployed and still living with mom and dad. 

Sunday, you did the right thing like I knew you would have. So awesome of you. 

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3 hours ago, Sunday21 said:

What can you do? Just be pleasant and kind. Nothing that you could do or say is going to change the situation. How could you heal that kind of pain? 

Bad things happen. Life goes on.

i was teaching young adults. One of the young sisters was a vicious spiteful bully to the newly arrived refugee young adults. I put my foot down. I informed the Sunday School president, who refused to deal with the situation as the parents were local pillars of the church. I called the parents myself. The mother who is an angel in most situations made it clear that she did not believe me. Well that young woman is now inactive and unemployed and still living with mom and dad. 

If I encountered that, well...my phone does audio and video recordings...

...and I would ask the parents if they were calling me a liar...

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My older brother was a real bully to me growing up. Being a year younger and the second oldest I was always protecting my younger siblings from him. His Mission changed him completely but some of the things he did had a way of returning to haunt him. During a reunion we held,  after we were grown up and married with young kids, my sister broke down and really layed into him about what a nightmare he had been growing up and it got to the point where her husband packed them up and gently escorted her to thier car departing early. They have since made up. My brother just didn't remember anything about the way he was or used to be. It's hard for me because we are just a year apart, but among bad memories or very precious memories that I want to share with him and he seems to have even forgotten those. He becomes noticably uncomfortable when we bring up anything from our childhood. 

Recently when I was visiting his family his kids, now college age, asked me about a story their Dad (my brother) told me about when I just attacked him out of the blue. I had jumped off our deck and slammed him to the ground and punched him in the face. Somehow my brother remembered this and completely disregarded my side of the story. It made me think that the distance between me and my nephews and neices was because he didn't share my side of things. The truth was that my brother kept trying to wake me up to go help my Dad who was calling for me. After the third time he had punched me in the face several times and left. I remember looking in the mirror and crying because I could see my face swelling and I had never ever been hit in the face or hit anyone in the face in my life (I was 16). It was that and years of intimidation and abuse that made me finally decide to stand up to him. When I attacked him in front of my Dad, my Dad literally cheered me on and didn't interfere because he was happy to see me standing up for myself. So for some reason my nephews and neices think I was psycho and I don't know how the jibs with their grandparents always refering to me as their peacemaker.

So here I am with this situation and all I can do is love my brother. Whether or not it strained my relationship with his kids is not my problem and the fact that he remembers it wrong is not my problem either. All I can do is forgive him and I do. He has become a someone I greatly admire and he deserves admiration. Whether by choice or circumstance he just doesn't remember things like I do and that's ok. I try to do little things to support those nephews and neices, like liking the facebook posts...lame I know...but we live so far apart I don't have the chance to spend more time with them. 

Anyway, I really love this quote. 


Forgiveness means giving up all hope for a better past. -Lily Tomlin


Happiness is not found in the past it's found in the present and Forgiveness involves the choice to live in the present. We know what we are commanded to do, our experience and our own mistakes and flaws remind us what a wonderful thing Forgiveness is. If we are to become like Heavenly Father we need to view others as he does. Thankfully he views us as we are, not as we were and that is how we need to approach each other. 

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This isn't a response to the OP.  I just want to take the opportunity to say - the best thing you can do about a bully is to stand up to them... starting with telling their teachers and parents and exposing their actions.  Don't just lay down and be their punching bag giving the bully another victim.

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Actually if you are in a low power position eg another student in the class, standing up to the bully is not a good idea. Child/youth bullies are popular, better looking and more popular than others. Teachers normally enable and prefer the bully. Standing up to the bully is likely to result in mobbing with the presiding adults enabling the bully.

Edited by Sunday21

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1 hour ago, Sunday21 said:

Actually if you are in a low power position eg another student in the class, standing up to the bully is not a good idea. Child/youth bullies are popular, better looking and more popular than others. Teachers normally enable and prefer the bully. Standing up to the bully is likely to result in mobbing with the presiding adults enabling the bully.

Disagree.  Child/youth bullies are bullies because nobody stands up to them.  And it is this attitude of - they're better than me and the adults are going to be on their side - that perpetuates the creation of more victims.

Kids who grow up in a Martial Arts discipline are taught this kind of self-confidence - the confidence to stand up for what you believe is right regardless of who you are up against.

Edited by anatess2

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I grew up in a ward full of "popular girls" and was one of only two boys.  It was awful, honestly.  We had a Youth activity where we were supposed to go on a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood and eventually meet back at the church for donuts.  We were in two teams, the populars and the rest of us.  Anyway, we did all of our tasks and when we finally got back to the church, the donuts had been eaten and a note said, "We got bored after the first thing, so came back early.  Have a good night."  I think the worst part was their guide was an adult.  Took a lot of prayer to forgive that one.  Please, stand up to bullies!

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On 11/27/2016 at 10:41 AM, Backroads said:

My question is, what do you say to someone who has just been threw this? How do you comfort her? If you were that person, how would you deal with that sort of assault?

As someone who was awkward in my younger years (oh, ok, I still am a little) and subject to some bullying, a quote from my Mormon-friendly Cleanplay Edited copy of "V for Vendetta" comes to mind:  "Q: Is it meaningless to apologize?  A: Never."

Seriously, an apology can go a long way in this case.  One guy used to pick on me in gym class in school when I was 13 years old.  Back then, and for most of my teenage life, I was apparently very, very uncool at my school... I was the strange combination of being this impovershed, nerdy Mormon kid in the middle of West Texas (think Provo for Southern Baptists).  Fast forward to when I was 18 years old - I found out this guy (who I still had some pretty hard feelings towards) was going to be working with me at my job!  I was wary at first, but then he came up and gave me a big hug, and we had a long talk about how life was and how I was about to go on a mission.  I took that to be functionally equivalent to an apology, and all of the bitterness just melted away once and for all.  I don't really remember this guy anymore as a bully who harassed me when I was 13.  Rather, I remember a friend from when I was 18.  This has happened at least three or four other times in my life - former bullies apologizing (even if they did not exactly say the words "I'm sorry") and all that pain and sadness suddenly disappearing.  It is a wonderful, healing thing to hear the words "I'm sorry" from an old bully!

In this case, I see bullying on two fronts - the old bullying that happened 20 years ago, and the victims posting all that awful stuff on facebook (which, let's face it, was also bullying.  My wife has struggled with infertility in my own marriage, and it is really, really painful for those involved.  Saying that infertility is a punishment from God is just plain cruel.)  I also think that no one involved in this situation is a bad person - no one has committed murder, or joined a terrorist group, or anything like that.  We are just dealing with what sounds like very good people who have done some things very unbecoming of them.  What is done is done.  

I think, if the parties are willing to let Christ heal them and act with the Spirit, the words "I'm sorry" can do so much to heal!  There are possible exceptions to this rule (e.g., an abusive spouse or someone who is actually dangerous or truly toxic to be around), but I think in many cases involving old wounds from teenage bullying, we may be truly surprised (in a good way) if we just sit down and talk.

Edited by DoctorLemon

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On 11/28/2016 at 7:08 AM, Sunday21 said:

Actually if you are in a low power position eg another student in the class, standing up to the bully is not a good idea. Child/youth bullies are popular, better looking and more popular than others. Teachers normally enable and prefer the bully. Standing up to the bully is likely to result in mobbing with the presiding adults enabling the bully.

Speaking from my own experience: I would say that standing up to the bully is usually the way to go. Fight for your life. Kick, scratch, and claw. Go for the eyes. Bite -- hard. Fingers, face, whatever you can clamp your jaw down onto. Draw blood. Bite off pieces. Kick him in the jewels as much as possible. Fight as if you're going to die anyway. And when you get him down, don't stop the beating, because I guarantee the bully won't stop beating you when you're down.

Do NOT count on the "authorities" helping you out -- the school principal or teachers or whoever. They are cowards. They are stinking worthless moral relativists who will watch you get beaten and then tell you it's just as much your fault as the bully's. Unless they're cops packing heat, they will let you down and allow the bullying.

What I have described above is ugly and arguably unChristlike. But along with your broken nose and cracked teeth, you will have your self-respect. If you just put your head down, you will get beaten. You won't deserve it, but you'll get a bellyful of it. My suggestion is to fight back as hard as you can.

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I have been to a lot of bullying conferences, I do not study schoolyard bullying but have sat in many summation lectures in which they sum up the reasearch on childhood bullying. Childhood bullies are often attractive, popular with both adults and other children and standing up to them makes things worse. I only remember this result because it parallels the research with respect to  employees. I study employees. The interesting finding is that schoolyard bullies are aided and abetted by teachers who like the bullies.

i went looking for papers that would back this up but I didn't find anything other than the typical 'school yard bullying is a way to climb to the top of the social hierarchy'. It is not unusual that the reasearchers in an area see ongoing trends that do not get published, You cannot publish some types of information because it is not new.

Anyway, researchers of schoolyard bullying believe that standing up to the bully makes things worse because you are fighting a social structure that includes teachers. 

In workplace bullying, the advice is to quit. 

Here is A reference to the social network research on bullying. I cannot get it to post but try googling

apa.org school bullying is nothing new; but psychologists identify new ways to prevent it

http://www.apa.org/research/action/bullying.aspx

The link above sometimes works and sometimes does not work.

anyway the researchers believe that if you try to fit the social order that has defined one child as a victim, then you are fighting an entire social order including teachers. The social order  will retaliate to a change in the social order and things will get worse for the victim.

 

 

Edited by Sunday21

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2 hours ago, Sunday21 said:

I have been to a lot of bullying conferences, I do not study schoolyard bullying but have sat in many summation lectures in which they sum up the reasearch on childhood bullying. Childhood bullies are often attractive, popular with both adults and other children and standing up to them makes things worse. I only remember this result because it parallels the research with respect to  employees. I study employees. The interesting finding is that schoolyard bullies are aided and abetted by teachers who like the bullies.

i went looking for papers that would back this up but I didn't find anything other than the typical 'school yard bullying is a way to climb to the top of the social hierarchy'. It is not unusual that the reasearchers in an area see ongoing trends that do not get published, You cannot publish some types of information because it is not new.

Anyway, researchers of schoolyard bullying believe that standing up to the bully makes things worse because you are fighting a social structure that includes teachers. 

In workplace bullying, the advice is to quit. 

Here is A reference to the social network research on bullying. I cannot get it to post but try googling

apa.org school bullying is nothing new; but psychologists identify new ways to prevent it

http://www.apa.org/research/action/bullying.aspx

The link above sometimes works and sometimes does not work.

anyway the researchers believe that if you try to fit the social order that has defined one child as a victim, then you are fighting an entire social order including teachers. The social order  will retaliate to a change in the social order and things will get worse for the victim.

 

 

I don't see anything in that link you posted that says if you're a victim, don't stand up for yourself.  Also, that link applies solutions to the entire environment.  It doesn't address the issue directly.  You can wish and hope you are in an environment that is conducive to a peaceful social structure for your entire lifespan.  But, that's basically raising your kids to expect a safe space everywhere they go.

I prefer to raise my kids with the understanding that they can't control what other people do, they can only control how they react to them.  Therefore, I raise them so that they will overcome weaknesses in their personality so that they will either not even think about becoming bullies if they are in the power structure or that they can break out of that power structure if they find themselves in the bottom rung, or that they will be protectors if they find themselves in the middle.  The Gospel of Christ is about CHANGE.  Kids are born with certain tendencies - the trappings of mortality - and that link you provided is pretty good with identifying characteristics that has the tendency to place you in certain spots in the social hierarchy (although, I do believe that you don't have to be top dog to be a bully - the omega dog is just as capable of becoming a bully).  It is our job as parents to give them the tools to overcome their weaknesses regardless of where they find themselves in the social structure.  It is eventually the job of the kids to bring themselves to self-sufficiency as they employ these tools in their lives.

 

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2 hours ago, Sunday21 said:

Anyway, researchers of schoolyard bullying believe that standing up to the bully makes things worse because you are fighting a social structure that includes teachers. 
...

apa.org school bullying is nothing new; but psychologists identify new ways to prevent it
http://www.apa.org/research/action/bullying.aspx
...
anyway the researchers believe that if you try to fit the social order that has defined one child as a victim, then you are fighting an entire social order including teachers. The social order  will retaliate to a change in the social order and things will get worse for the victim.

Wow - pretty strong evidence in favor of the "they are stinking worthless moral relativists" claim.    Right and wrong don't enter into it.  Character and morality aren't considered.  Dry, numerical, quantification of short-term discomfort is what we get.  

Ordinarily, I'd just roll my eyes at this link and it's findings, and the people who produced them.  But Vort's characterizing is accurate.  This is worthy of a strong and passionate denounciation.

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The approach of researchers in this field is to change the school environment. Make it uncool to bully and embarass the teachers who are supporting the bullying. It is an indirect approach in terms of the child who is a bully...but I suspect that the school is afraid of the bully and his/her parents! Instead of going after the bully, they are going after the supports for bullying .. the teachers.

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I'm not the only one who has seen Roadhouse, or just about any decent martial arts movie, right?  Of course changing the status quo is hard.  Of course things get worse before they get better.  Of course those in power try to quash challengers.

Jeez - even Kung Fu Panda understood it's still important to fight the good fight.  It's lost on these academic researchers though. 

If the APA isn't the enemy, they sure the heck aren't worthy allies.

Edited by NeuroTypical

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Well I can't speak for these researchers, I work with adults but my guess is that they see things this way:

a) the bully is  a child and so deserves some sympathy. Sometimes the bully may be under the magic age of 8!

b) the bully has a scary support system so you need to dismantle the support system

c) they are really angry with the teachers who support the bullying!

 

Edited by Sunday21

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1 hour ago, Sunday21 said:

Well I can't speak for these researchers, I work with adults but my guess is that they see things this way:

a) the bully is  a child and so deserves some sympathy. Sometimes the bully may be under the magic age of 8!

b) the bully has a scary support system so you need to dismantle the support system

c) they are really angry with the teachers who support the bullying!

 

Sunday, I truly see what you're getting at.  BUT, that doesn't negate the NECESSITY - for the good of the victim - for them to learn how to solve their own problems instead of just relying on their environment to save them.

So yes, adults - do what you need to provide a peaceful environment.  Parents - don't rely nor expect this environment.  Equip your kids with skills and a solid toolset.

That's the ticket.  Then, when your kids become adults and they end up in Zamboanga, Philippines - far from their peaceful environment - they'll know, not only how to deal with bullies (adults get bullied too), they can also raise their children knowing how to deal with bullies in a hostile environment where adults teach their kids how to bully... complete with M16's.  They will be the people that can EFFECT CHANGE in a place like Zamboanga.

 

Edited by anatess2

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Dear Anatess2,

Yes I see your point. Poor child! What is the child meant to do? At least with some self defense skills, the victim has more of a chance to survive. Anyway, I learnt judo as a kid. I had to flip some young men over desks and one over a stairwell to survive so I see your point!

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16 minutes ago, Sunday21 said:

Dear Anatess2,

Yes I see your point. Poor child! What is the child meant to do? At least with some self defense skills, the victim has more of a chance to survive. Anyway, I learnt judo as a kid. I had to flip some young men over desks and one over a stairwell to survive so I see your point!

This is not just about physical self-defense.  This is about the building of character.  Physical discipline is just one of the myriad of tools that we equip our children with to be able to navigate any social structure.

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