Dear Mrs. C:
Our daughter, ‘Waldette,’ said she thinks a girl in one of her classes looked at her in a mean way. Do you have any suggestions?
Signed: Fearful of Possible Bullying
It’s great that you and Waldette have open communication!
Mean looks (perceived or real) are no fun. Boo.
Idea: suggest to Waldette that she treat PMLG (Possible Mean-Looking Girl) just as nicely as everyone else. Chances are, this was a fluke thing. If so, nothing lost.
However, if there becomes a pattern of mean looks, then that needs to be addressed. The definition of bullying includes ‘prolonged’ – i.e., happens way more than once. The definition also includes ‘unwanted attention,’ and ‘imbalance of power’ – i.e., preying upon weaker people.
At Buena, we do not tolerate bullying. If there is a situation, a bullying/harassment report may be reported in person or online (www.svusd68.org; then see the bright red button that says ‘Click Here to Report a Bully’).
If in person, the student may go to Counseling, Security, or any staff. They will then be directed to Counseling, where we will have the student write out a statement (who, what, when, where-type of thing). The report is then taken to a principal, who will follow through on it as soon as possible).
I would avoid saying to Waldette: “Waldette! Seriously? A glance that might have been innocent, and you make it into the crime of the century? What if PMLG was suffering the start of a migrane? Or accidentally swallowed a fly? (nasty thought!) Cut her some slack! And … smile back! Remember what your Grandmama used to say – ‘always put the most charitable construction on everything someone does or says,’ AKA ‘take the high road.’
Rather, you might try this approach: Bullies are sad sacks. They often feel inferior/unworthy, so they try to elevate their status by being better than someone else, which, in their eyes, means putting someone else down.
So very hurtful and unnecessary. But here’s where you can make a difference – if you ever come upon a situation where someone is being put down – if possible, try to divert the bully away from the victim (unless it would put you in harm’s way).
Hope this helps!
- Mrs. C
ELAINE CARLSON is a Buena High School counselor. Questions can be sent to her at email@example.com.