Some statistics on teenage bullying:
- One out of every four students (22%) report being bullied during the school year. (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2015)
- 64% of children who were bullied did not report it; only 36% reported the bullying. (Petrosina, Guckenburg, DeVoe, and Hanson, 2010)
The good news is bullying can be prevented. But it’s not going to be because of parents, teachers, or school administrators. The good guys of the world have to step up and intervene.
In a study focused on bullying in football, “the strongest predictor was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player’s life would approve of the bullying behavior.” This could mean if the popular good guys would confront, bullying could stop.
One of my good friends, Ryder Ray, recently posted a heartbreaking story on Facebook about his son. This is what he wrote:
Dad Finds Out Son Is Being Bullied
Daniel Briggs committed suicide last year and was just a year older than my son. His story has become common: he was bullied, his parents told the teachers, and after a few years, he shot himself in the head.
I’ve worked hard on my relationship with my son. We are closer than anyone could dream. I’d say my son and I are the same soul living in two bodies.
However close you think your bond is with your child, there are things you won’t know that will stay hidden. It took me a year before I found out my son was being bullied. Jojo didn’t tell me, but I saw a few interactions where he lied about something and attempted to laugh it off.
After weeks of talking, I finally got him to explain he was being bullied.
Later that night I cried so hard I got a migraine. I’m as tough as they come, but somehow I couldn’t protect my son from a few kids. It’s one of the most failing feelings I’ve ever had.
JoJo told me he didn’t fight back or say anything because the kids’ families were wealthy and tied to the prep school and he didn’t want to get kicked out.
Let me give you a backstory. A bit before we started over and moved into a 1 bedroom apt while I tried to figure life out, we got lucky and Jojo got into a great school that I couldn’t afford. He knew this and was afraid he’d get kicked out and didn’t want to be a burden financially. So, he let kids degrade him, threaten him, make fun of him, hit him, and tease him; all so we would have enough to live, even though it meant his heart was dying inside.
I didn’t know he could tell I was skipping meals so he could eat or that I’d have him stay with his mom because I was broke. How’s that for being a super hero dad?
I’ve had people steal from me, watched people embezzle money, and was even blackmailed once. I watched someone screw me over for an extra .75% of equity in a company. But, I’ve never experienced the kind of pain and feeling of helplessness that came from not being able to protect my son’s heart.
Money has always been something I thought you could just make. I have a strong back and can load a truck, so at least my son will always eat. But this situation was something that I was unprepared for.
I saw this pain in my little cubs eyes as we broke down in each others arms and he saw mine. The thought of him in pain destroyed me.
I recalled stories I’ve heard of children at his age committing suicide and wondered how they got to this point.
How we handled the bullying is not the lesson, though I’ll say we didn’t wait for the teachers to give the kids a talk.
The take away is this: I’ve been a daddy from a younger age than most and Jojo doesn’t show an ounce of insecurity and laughs from sun up to sun down. But, even he fell into a pattern of allowing others to hurt him and I was unprepared to see it.
If it can happen to us, it can happen to you and your family. I hope as your children reach this pivotal time before their teens, you can work to keep communication open and not only teach them to be nice but also that they deserve to be treated as such.