Dear Rhonda & Dr. Cheri: What is bullying and what to do?
Dear Rhonda and Dr. Cheri,
My daughter’s 11 and going into middle school. I’m worried about her because she’s been severely bullied for having a speech problem.
We asked her if she wanted to go to a speech therapist. She said she definitely didn’t want to go. She said the kids would be worse to her because they also bully another special-needs girl.
The girls bullying my daughter stuffed food in her mouth, and down her clothes, and said, “Don’t talk anymore — ever.”
What is bullying, exactly? What should we do about it?
Mom of a Bullied Daughter
As her parents, you are the ones to assess whether your daughter has needs to be met; it’s not your child’s responsibility. Her welfare is in your hands. Special-needs children are, unfortunately, bullied for being different, just like new students are often bullied for being different.
Our definition of a bully: a person or persons who dominates, manipulates, threatens, forces, intimidates, and/or harms intentionally, a vulnerable person or persons, repeatedly, which creates an imbalance of power, physically, emotionally, mentally, sexually, financially, verbally, and/or socially.
Stopbullying.gov reports that 44 percent of 11- and 12- year-old girls are bullied by name calling, 43 percent are bullied by being teased (“just kidding”), and 36 percent are bullied by rumors and lies. Following those numbers are: pushing or shoving, hitting, slapping, kicking, ostracizing, threatening, stealing belongings, sexual comments, and cyberbullying.
New studies show bully-induced suicide is on a steep rise in the 11- to 12-year-old range for girls because of bullying.
What to do — tips:
- Follow our Triangle of Triumph: Victim — Survivor — Leader
Victim — Grieve victimhood and choose not to stay one.
Survivor — Define yourself, before others do, with our 5Cs: Civility, Confidence, Courage, Creativity, and Communication with C.L.A.S.S. — Connect/Listen/Ask/Summarize/Suggest (an activity or idea).
Leader — By example of living the 5Cs
Stand with tall posture, keep a neutral face, and have good eye contact.
Don’t “engage” with the bully by responding, explaining, arguing, or practicing “revenge bullying.”
One response only — Say, “Stop bullying me,” and walk away.
Report, report, report bullying to a trusted adult — parents, teachers, principals, or as a last resort — to the police.
It’s a sad commentary on our current society when kids with disabilities are bullied. Kids who are bullied are also good candidates to becoming a “bully-victim.” Physical vulnerability, social skill challenges, or intolerant environments may increase the risk.
Education on bullying for all is a must.
We are sorry your daughter is experiencing the deep pain of both having a disability and bullying.
Rhonda and Dr. Cheri
Rhonda Orr is the president and founder of the Prescott-based Rhonda’s STOP BULLYING Foundation. Dr. Cheri L. McDonald, PhD, LMFT, is a crime-victim specialist. Listen to Rhonda’s podcast: bullyinglifeandstuff.com.