Anti-Bullying Week is a regular focal point on all school calendars. Very few schools deny they have bullies, they accept the problem and deal with it in the best way they know how. Lessons are based around empowering the victims, explaining how to stay safe and the importance of sharing concerns with a safe adult.
But what about the bully?
It is our responsibility as parents to raise our children to be calm, kind and caring. To make sure that they neither fall victims to bullies, nor become the bullies. This is good in most families. Most families care greatly about their children and raise them responsibly.
There is another group of children however, who are not as fortunate. These are the children who suffer neglect, intimidation, bullying, abuse … from their own parents or family members. This often results in aggressive, abusive behaviour by the child.
Sometimes, I think helping the victims, becomes like constantly mopping up water from a leaky tap. Surely it’s better to fix the tap? If we could help the bullies, there wouldn’t be any victims in need of help.
The bullies need friendship and understanding too. They are rarely happy children. They’re acting out the pain inside. In my book, “The Boy Who Couldn’t” (which was initially titled “Bully”), the readers witness Greg’s terrible home life and see how it affects his actions outside the house. We don’t have to like him, but I challenge you to read it without feeling some sympathy for him. A child having read the book told me, “from now on I’ll wonder why they’re being like that instead of just being angry with them.”
James’ parents do what I wish I had done when my son was attacked in the park – in a very subtle, understated way, they invite Greg into their family. They don’t interfere. They don’t judge. They’re just there – a safe space for him to go to. And without anything being explicitly told to him, Greg knows they care. This is hugely important in his life. I hope we can all learn not to be judgmental, but to seek the real child hiding behind the guise of a bully. People such as James’ parents, in their own quiet way, make our world a better place. #notallheroeswearcapes
The sequel, “The Boy Who Dared” will be available from 1 October 2022.