Image courtesy of American Girl.
Tonight my dear girl Becky is having a sleepover - her first ever here at our house - with one of her best friends. They're snuggled on the couch as I type this, watching Chrissa Stands Strong.
I won't spoil the movie for you or your girl, but I will tell you that it's about all the devious and conniving ways girl bullies operate, from the Queen Bee who rules the hive to the butter-wouldn't-melt-in-my-mouth way said Queen Bee lies to every teacher and parent who questions her when things go awry.
It's a tough movie for me to watch.
The parent in me wants to throttle the Queen Bee bully and wonders where, oh where, the little darling's parents may be? Surely, I think, after a rash of trouble making incidents at the school, the parental units would have been required to meet with the principal?
The girl in me, that knobby and scabby-kneed girl with the doofy glasses (look here and see if you can find me - and yes, elementary school fashion in the early 80's was still recovering from the nuclear fallout of the late 70's) , shivers. I remember all too well what it was like to be on the receiving end of girl bullying, how one girl can fly under the radar of all the adults and terrorize you.
Psychologists say that the cruelty of bullies stems from feelings of inadequacy, that they batter and belittle others to make themselves feel better.
All true, maybe.
But I hate the idea of excusing bad behavior with psycho-babble. I've known people who've suffered far greater pains than not getting enough attention at home who never once felt the need to reduce another human being to tears in order to lift their own spirits.
Bullying is just wrong on every level - physical, emotional, and spiritual.
The ending of this movie is a little too easy, a little too filled with bright and shiny rainbows for me to believe. Bullies rarely change their ways; they might lie dormant like a seed from a nasty weed, but given the right conditions they will blossom and flourish once again (hello internet trolls!).
I'm not so naive as to hope that Becky never gets bullied; she had one little girl in her kindergarten class at the Catholic school in our last town who delighted in breaking her headbands, taking her supplies, and even pushing her down on the playground. It stopped when I met with the principal the next day holding a sheaf of photos of the contusion on her chin from where the girl shoved her down on the hopscotch (which no one had noticed but me given that it was on the bottom of her jawline) in one hand and a letter cc'd to the Archdiocese listing every offense and how each one violated the no-bullying policy in the other.
My hope is that if/when Becky finds herself in the cross hairs of a bully again, she'll stand tall, square her shoulders, and face her down.
What about you? Have your kids been bullied? Do you think bullying has gotten worse since we were kids?
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