Tuesday, April 13, 2010

When it Hits Home

Yesterday – exactly one week after writing the last post on Changing the Bully-Victim Paradigm – my daughter came home from school and let us knows that another student had slapped her across the face. As the three of us – my husband, daughter and I – sat down to talk about the incident, the thought that her school was not safe flashed through my mind. That thought did nothing but escalate my fear. I set that aside because what I wanted to discover more than anything else was how my daughter was showing up. In what way was she saying – through tone of voice, words, body language and presence – that it was even remotely possible for someone to hit her?

My daughter, who is in middle school, shared that she had been loaning books to two friends. Each girl would read the book and return it the next day. One friend returned book #5 in the series. While waiting for the bus to go home after school, the second girl, who is in the grade ahead of my daughter, demanded “Five!” My daughter felt intimidated, and instead of telling her that she needed it for her book log, she told her a lie. She said that the first girl had not given it back. In response, the second girl slapped her across the face. She had already been told by another girl that #5 had been returned to my daughter.

My daughter did not hit her back. She said, “That really hurt!” She then deflected a punch.

We talked about and demonstrated body language – assertive and passive – and the results of each one. We talked about the possibility that the girl who slapped her was on the receiving end at home, especially for lying. We talked about how the girl’s height and very demanding tone were intimidating. We talked about the options for responding to intimidating people and what our daughter wanted to do to handle the incident.

I felt proud for my daughter for many things. She told us about it, she did not hit back, she honestly explored her feelings, and she wanted to be actively involved in handling it at school. She also has some more learning and growing to do, so this conversation will continue.

Today I spoke with the school’s administrator, and it is now in her hands. I let her know that my goal for my daughter was for her learn to assertively express herself and to show up in a way that says “I am not for hitting.” My goal for the second girl was to learn another way to deal with her anger and to find a safe place to talk if she is being hit at home. The administrator will be calling me back after she talks with both of them individually.

I'll keep you posted.

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