Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: Part of the solution or part of the problem?
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
I feel guilty because my friend for the last four years, Abbie, has been slamming, Nanci, a girl from another school who came to our school because she was bullied so badly at her other school.
Nanci is really pretty but very shy. Abbie's boyfriend said Nanci was "hot" and that sent Abbie into killer mode.
So Abbie does things to embarrass her, like sit by her at lunch, as if she's going to eat lunch with her. Then Abbie takes her lunch and comes to sit by us ... her "crew." She says things loud enough so Nanci can hear her call her names like whore, slut, fat, and a joke of a person. The other day she said that she can understand why Nanci was bullied at her old school and that she deserves it because she's a skank.
I was put together with Nanci in one of my classes and she's really nice and cares about things and her family. I got to know her and she smiles at me all the time. But if I'm with the "crew," I just ignore her.
I know I'm probably hurting her feelings. I feel like I should say something to Abbie but she'll throw me under the bus or worse. If I tell an adult, the crew will make fun of me, too. Besides, no one at our school really does anything. They act like we don't have bullying problems. But we do and no one cares.
I Don't Know
Dear Don't Know,
We think you do indeed know what to do because your good conscience (that's why we are born with one) is bugging you to do the best thing. Don't be passive. Be courageous, regardless of the consequences.
If you don't make a choice to defend someone innocent, that makes you a co-conspirator to the offense.
You are a bystander. Some bystanders actually instigate the bullying by prodding the bully to action. Some bystanders inspire the bully with gossip and rumors knowing the bully will probably use her social media to degrade her victim. Some bystanders decide to join in with the bullying in order to be in good standing with the bully.
Passive bystanders are those like you that don't intervene or go get help from a trusted adult.
You might not fully understand that you are either contributing to the problem or contributing to the solution. Doing nothing does not mean you aren't participating. In fact you are participating in the bullying because you are allowing the bully to have the audience she craves so much to feel empowered.
You are already suffering by being a bystander victim. You are:
Feeling anxious to talk with Abbie or with Nanci or an adult to stop what you know is wrong
Feeling powerless, so, in essence, you are already a victim to Abbie's bullying
Feeling afraid that you may not get help from adults to make necessary changes, thereby becoming a target of Abbie's revenge
Don't suffer any longer. Realize you are already a victim but you don't have to stay one. Stand up and be proud for having a desire to help someone as you will want someone to help you. In fact, you could quite possibly be a mentor to the other victim and she can be your mentor.
Nanci is a double-victim. Remember how she talked with you nicely instead of gossiping? Here's a quote you may both live by, from Socrates:
"Strong minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, weak minds discuss people."
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Monthly discussion group
Following our first discussion group in December on "Suicide, Self-harm, Bullying and the Holidays," our foundation is starting a monthly discussion group on the last Wednesday of each month beginning Jan. 27 from 6 to 7p.m. at the Prescott Public Library, 215 E. Goodwin Street. The topic will be, "Bullying: Everybody's Problem." This is for all members of our community. For more info, please call Rhonda Orr at 928.515.9996
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda's STOP BULLYING Foundation for Girls.
Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Send your anonymous questions to Rhonda@rhondastopbullying.org.