Thursday, January 21, 2010


Some people complain that homeschoolers will never learn to deal with bullies. Hey, I went to public school, and I don't know how to deal with bullies either.

Ignoring them doesn't work.

"Tattling" (also known as "going to the authorities") works insofar as the authority is able to keep watch and is willing to act against the bullying.

Retaliation through physical force or other means is usually not appropriate, besides the fact that it's usually ineffective.

I've heard that the only way that stands a chance is to speak out clearly against the bullying, calling it what it is, in a voice loud enough to bring attention to the bully's misbehavior, and having the whole group agree on certain consequences for the bully, such as being shunned. In other words, those who observe the bullying must side with the victim and not become intimidated themselves.

The thing I struggle with is attitude. I know that behavior follows attitude. If a person behaves inappropriately and clearly has had no change of heart, I struggle with saying "I forgive you" when their apology doesn't take responsibility for what they did. "I'm sorry you were hurt" or "I'm sorry you can't take a joke" is not the same as "I was wrong." Works flow from faith. Good works flow from a right faith; not-nice works flow from a false faith or a me-centered faith. So if you see that the antagonizer has had no change of heart, you can't reasonably expect the bullying behavior to stop.

But I guess --in the Kingdom of the Left-- we don't care about faith. We don't care about attitude. We don't care about outlooks. We only care about behavior. Ill behavior is punished; good behavior is rewarded; we don't care what the motivation is; we just care about the actions. It's just so hard when you know the hurtful actions aren't going to go away.


  1. "Some people complain that homeschoolers will never learn to deal with bullies."

    And that is one reason we homeschool! So that our kids won't have to do so! I always find it amazing that champions of institutional education point to it as a source of life lessons when nothing could be further from real life than the way we do school in this country, with its age segregation, stamping out of individualism, destruction of intrinsic motivation, and encouraging of students to remain in an adolescent mindset.

    Kids who get bullied in school are not able to run away (which they might be able to in real life) nor to fight back (without possibly getting in trouble). It is a no win situation. And for any child to be subjected to that is heartbreaking.

  2. I understand the difficulty of forgiving someone who isn't sorry - and I understand how difficult it must have been when I was growing up for others to forgive me when I wasn't really sorry for what I did at the time.

    But (and I say this especially with faith in mind) I would say that it is precisely that forgiveness, even when they aren't sorry, that may ultimately change the bully's heart and not only his actions. How can you pick on the one who forgives you, even in the midst of doing it?

    Of course, the bullying may continue and he may just laugh in the face of forgiveness. But if it is faith that we're concerned about, then what more is there to do but to forgive? And let the light of the Gospel shine on their sin, hoping that by that light they will see their sin for what it is and repent...

    On a side note, my dad taught me to fight back. In my case, it was ineffective for other reasons. The bullies stopped, but the teachers caught me and thought I was the bully. So, yeah...

  3. "Tattling" (also known as "going to the authorities") works insofar as the authority is able to keep watch and is willing to act against the bullying."

    One of our kids was bullied on the bus. He complained to the driver. Her answer was to seat them together, so they (they!) would "learn how to get along." When he came home with blood on his chin, I finally decided to drive him to school.

    And, Nathan, another son fought back, on two occasions. Each time, he resisted long past the time that I could have. Both times, both kids served detentions, although both teachers understood him fighting back. "That's just how we do this."