But the problem is, when it comes down to it, managing in LIFE is about managing bullies every step of the way, not just in school. Bad bosses, sleazy car salesmen, angry boyfriends/girlfriends, thoughtless drivers, indignant cashiers, frustrated teachers, ANYONE makes you feel "do it my way or ELSE I'll hit-expose-hurt-embarrass-dismiss-overcharge-belittle-ignore-undermine you.
Let's be honest - we ALL do a bit of huffy bravado chest thumping when we tell some customer service agent "If you don't satisfy me I'll NEVER buy your product again and I'll tell everyone you suck." We may be talking about a product, but someone reads that letter - someone is on the other end of that phone call. Have you given a sneer to the cashier at the grocery store when they weren't moving quickly. Yup - that's bullying, in a manner of speaking. What positive response can you expect to get form such haughtiness?
There's bullying on the global scale too - world politics is one big game of Who's the Biggest Bully - genocide, class struggles, interment camps, castes, republicans vs. democrats, police vs. the people, people vs. the people, government vs. the people.
Bullying, though I hate to admit it, is part of life. I mean, that's how animals assert dominance right? And we are animals. We cannot control human behavior any more than we can control any animal behavior.
When it comes down to it I don't really think we can stop bullying. BUT - we can modify how we act, we can adapt and learn from mistakes that have caused insult in the past. We can pass on lessons of AHIMSA (peace and love and gentility and non-harming) to try to make this world, even our small ones, a better place.
So what we do? How do we help our children, not just protect them but prepare them for the world where we can't always talk to a principal, or swoop in for rescue? Well it seems to me that is a three step process.
1) TELL them bullying is wrong because it hurts people's feelings.
2) SHOW them bullying is wrong by modeling thoughtful behavior ALL THE TIME. Even when someone cuts you off on the freeway. Even when you are in hurry and you want someone to drive faster. EVEN when you know you are right but especially when you know you are not.
3) TEACH them how to adapt, how to be happy, how to be strong, how to be self-confident and know when to engage in dialogue, and when it's smart to walk away.
Trying. In loving parenthood attempts, one day at a time.