I realized the anti-bullying message was missing something
It all started in January of 2014. I had just become a father a few years before and at that point my daughter attended daycare and preschool just like any other two or three year old. There was never really any issues; my wife and I would take her to school in the morning and pick her up in the afternoon. It pretty much went that way for the first couple of years. Then, one day she came home with an “incident” report. I was very intrigued about this “incident” report. Something different had occurred in my child’s life, she had an incident!
Uh-oh, this was not good. Was she the aggressor or the victim? Either way, I knew there was a disconnect in the lessons she was being taught. I finally opened the report to find out that she was the victim. The incident was not a huge deal. She had been bitten and pushed down, but I don’t even think she had a mark (maybe just a grass stain)! It still got me thinking: How did she react? How did other students react when this “incident” occurred? How did the teacher react? The fact that I could not be certain of these answers was enough to concern me that proper behavioral responses to bullying were not being taught to our youngest children.
I am not saying this was a case of bullying by any stretch. I also don’t believe kids that young are capable of understanding the concept of bullying. It was a situation which got me to start thinking about the bullying message. What was out there to teach our young and impressionable kids how to react in a bullying situation? Of course, there are plenty of resources available to promote the anti-bullying message and this is fantastic. However, I unfortunately feel as though there are always going to be people/kids who want to pick on and hurt others. They will continue to display that type of behavior no matter what you say to them or how badly they are hurting others. My thought was: How can we teach everyone else to not put up with that type of behavior?
It is constantly proven that if a bully is confronted or the situation is handled, the bullying will cease. As a new parent, I was not really hearing or seeing this message talked about in schools. Again, the anti-bullying message was certainly present, but not so much the message of standing up. I knew it had to change, but that’s about it.
I woke in the middle of the night
I went to bed that night still thinking about the “incident report” and the lack of teaching with the stand-up message. It was obviously bothering me. To me, this is where the disconnect was happening. This is why the emergence of bullies in the ladder years of life has always taken place. The method of teaching our youngest children was not complete. Yes, we need to tell them that bullying is bad, but how do we react if we or someone else is being bullied? Of course, this will seem so surreal and it couldn’t possibly be true, but I promise it actually happened this way!
I woke in the middle of the night with the solution to my thoughts prior to falling asleep. I popped out of bed went to my computer and started writing. I wrote the initial story of “Bernie Gets Bullied” in under an hour! It was amazing how the characters, words and story flowed from my brain to my fingertips. I just kept thinking about how differently our country’s bullying landscape would look if this had previously existed. Would we be able to start changing the tides of the bullying problems in our country? I had to find out. The book sat for nine months!