Bullies and Use Your Kind Words
by Doyle Ranstrom on Sep 12, 2021
My 3-year old granddaughter after a year of self-quarantining returned to preschool. She was excited until she found out there was a young lad in her class that liked to hit, especially her. Of course, I immediately offered to come to her preschool and meet with the young gentleman and his parents about inappropriate behavior. I know the teachers in the class have discussed the issue with parents, but I felt as a totally unbiased third party, I may be able to facilitate the conversation in a thoughtful manner. So far, this pre-school has rejected this thoughtful offer on my part.
At the same time, I could visit her older sister's 1st-grade class. After doing kindergartner virtually, she is finding there are some mean kids in her class. So far, none of my "I am here to help" calls have been returned by the school. I probably should not have mentioned I am an obsessive obnoxious grandparent.
What really bothers me is this is the beginning of bullying. Something my granddaughters are going to have to deal with for the rest of their lives, especially as females.
We think of bullying in the school systems across our Nation. Many of the stories we hear are heartbreaking. But what does not get enough discussion in my estimation, is bullying is common throughout our country for adults.
I am not sure what percentage of adults are bullies. Maybe it is like the jerk rule. The jerk rule is what percentage of adults are jerks. A while back, I listened to a discussion about this. The high estimate was 20% and the low estimate was 5%. I tend to think it is closer to 5%, but they get around a lot so seems like there are more of them than there really are.
Maybe it is the same for bullies. But my concern is the percentage of bullies is increasing in our society and many of us are accepting it as normal.
- Until I found bicycling, I was a passionate tennis player and still follow the sport. I was sad to hear comments from two women in the recently completed US Open who lost during the tournament, all but one player does, about online verbal abuse they received. Sloane Stephens in a press conference said she received over 2,000 messages of abuse. Shelby Rogers said she received online death threats after her loss. Athletes as part of their endorsement contracts are often required to have an online media presence, so they cannot opt out. But they should not have to. The individuals doing this are bullies and cowards as often they do their bullying anonymously.
- In Arizona, a female elementary principal was confronted in her office by three men over Covid requirements. They threatened her. Regardless of what you think about Covid restrictions, three men confronting and threatening a professional woman in her place of work is a form of bullying. All three men have been arrested. She was probably used to it, but we should not accept it.
- Bullies can be women. In Nebraska, a mask-less woman followed a mother and her daughter who were wearing masks around a store confronting and coughing on them. She was later fired from her job as her employer did condone this behavior from an employee.
- And bullies are often politicians and their supporters. Last year a female member of Congress was confronted by a male member of Congress who disagreed with her policies. The confrontation was witnessed by members of the press. The Congressman told her she was "disgusting". After she said he was being rude, he walked away calling her a very derogatory name which women too often hear when they do not agree with white men.
I am concerned we as a society are accepting bullying as normal. It's not. Thoughtful intelligent people can disagree without being disagreeable. I would suggest adult bullies have at least two things in common. One they are cowards as most often they attack individuals either anonymously or individuals the bullies believe are powerless. Two, they are ignorant. They cannot talk intelligently about issues facing our country so they resort to bullying. For the rest of us, saying nothing or not objecting to adult bullying, is the same as accepting it.
My grandchildren's parents have very few rules, but two are "use your kind words" and "be nice". Do they always do so? Of course not, their kids. But none of us always live up to these forms of the "golden rule". But we can try, and one way we try is by not accepting or looking the other when bullying behavior takes place in our society.
All of my grandchildren as they grow up will find there are bullies in the world. Our job as grandparents is to make sure we neither accept nor implicitly condone bullying behavior.