I have been wanting to share thoughts on this topic, but it’s just so massive and painful.
Today I saw this link shared on Facebook.
She writes, “Allison is eleven years old. She loves Spiderman and Star Wars. The other kids mock her for carrying a Spiderman lunch box. Allison is taunted, ostracized, and even physically attacked by her peers.”
Seriously? Seriously? This is still happening? I mean, it was bad enough that the little boy was bullied for bringing a My Little Pony lunchbox to school, but that one didn’t surprise me (as much as it angered me).
I’ve heard people say these kids shouldn’t be allowed to have/do certain things because it makes them targets. Because bullying is inevitable and they should be taught to fit in more. “They’re just asking for trouble.”
Why can’t a boy use a “girly” lunchbox? Why can’t a girl have a geeky lunchbox? Why can’t an autistic child flap his hands in public? Why can’t a girl walk down the street holding hands with another girl?
Because other people are going to laugh or think they’re weird or tease them or physically assault them?
HOW IS THIS THE VICTIMS’ FAULTS?
No. I’ve had enough. We need to be teaching the PERPETRATORS, not the victims. We need to be changing THEIR behavior. Making THEM act more appropriately to fit in with society.
Bullying is not okay. I don’t care how “weird” a kid looks. I don’t care how unique or unusual they are. Because you know what? We are all unique individuals. And that should be celebrated, not squelched.
And you know what we call it when it happens outside of school? Hate crimes. People are even killed. This is serious stuff, people.
And you know what? I’m sick of the nonsense coming out of my own “Christian camp.” I’m all for respecting the fact that God created men and women to be different in some ways. But these “differences” the kids are being bullied for? Those are cultural gender norms, not God’s. Like Sunnie, the little girl who got kicked out of her Christian school for being a tomboy. The school told her grandparents that they can refuse students who are, “Condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle or alternative gender identity.” Because she’s causing confusion amongst students as to whether she’s a girl or boy. By the way, Sunnie says she knows she’s a girl. We’re not even talking about a transgender child here. Just one who was told that “her dress and behavior need to follow suit with her God-ordained identity.” (Quotes and info from this Daily Mail article) (OH, and the thing that really drove me mad? I read that she originally cut off her long hair when she was three to donate it to cancer patients.) I’ll tell you what, me and my two close friends are some of the biggest tomboys I’ve ever met. And I can assure you that all three of us are very much heterosexual. We respect that God made us women, but we don’t feel the need to be “girly” in the way our society expects of us.
In my field, people talk a lot about getting autistic kids to have more “age-appropriate” interests. They would say that my 10-year-old client shouldn’t be watching videos aimed at preschoolers and playing with his Thomas trains all afternoon. I agree that developing “age-appropriate” interests makes it a heck of a lot easier to relate to peers and make friends. But trying to take away these special interests is cruel. This is a great time for you to go read this blog post, “The Obsessive Joy of Autism.”
So yeah, if I had a kid who was doing something that made him or her a target, I might even encourage them to tone it down if it was a matter of safety and the thing itself wasn’t huge to them. But that’s like putting a band-aid on a very huge, infected wound. It’s only temporary.
We need to be teaching children to respect and love diversity. To understand that not everyone is just like them, and to realize that this is what makes the world so darn cool. To treat every human being they meet with respect. I know it’s not easy. It’s easier to try to make quirky kids fit in.
Recently I read this blog post and I wanted to share it here. This should be required reading for all children:
While you’re off reading that, I’ll be returning my attention to the feminine art of quilting. I’m currently working on the Shredder, from the 80’s Ninja Turtles cartoon.