Don’t Blame the Victim for Bullies’ Bad Behavior

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Being a longtime North Carolinian, actually growing up in Charlotte and having strong roots throughout western North Carolina, I understand old-school approaches to being tough, especially if you’re a boy.

But telling a child that his choice of lunch bag is causing him to be bullied, and to stop bringing the lunch bag … that’s wrong and a double-standard.

The bag: My Little Pony. The boy is 9. He was verbally and physically attacked at school for carrying the bag. He says he knows that his favorite cartoon is geared to girls, but he likes the friendships in the cartoon and thinks it’s OK for boys and girls to like the cartoon.

I say good for him. He knows what he likes and isn’t afraid to show it. How many grown men still hide their feelings for things they really don’t need to. It’s high time we let girls and boys be who they are.

If a girl wants to carry a Superman lunchbox, I say that’s OK and I doubt she’ll get punched for it. And what if a boy wants to dance rather than play football? Good for him. And maybe the girl would rather play hockey than dance. Go for it! Enough with the stereotypes and can we please stop enforcing them.

It is startling to me that the school in Buncombe County (near Candler, southwest of Asheville) asked the 9-year-old to stop bringing the bag to school because it is “a trigger for bullying.” This could simply be a case of a teacher or school staff member who thought they were doing the right thing by encouraging the child to put the lunch bag out of sight to avoid more ridicule. They likely meant no harm, and only were trying to help, but it doesn’t help teach tolerance or acceptance of self-expression. Sometimes the easy way isn’t the best way.

I don’t mean to bash the school system here as there are always two sides to every story (as a very good friend of mine who happens to be a teacher pointed out to me), but again it’s a situation that opens the conversation about bullying, tolerance and stereotyping.

I know old-school still exists in this state, but I hold hope that we can all open our hearts and minds to differences, especially differences in children. They are only expressing what they feel.

Share these 10 tips to help put a stop to bullying with your chldren.