I went to a great conference on bullying in Eau Claire awhile ago. There were speakers who were experts in the brain development aspect, the "impact" aspect, and the...well...law enforcement aspect (which I guess is also "impact"!).
I could very well relate to the lady who talked from a developmental perspective about how brains develop differently based on our environment and experiences. How our brain develops obviously impacts how we react to things.
For those of you who don't know us well, our son is adopted, and we adopted him at an "older" age. He was 4 when he came to live with us, and was 5 1/2 when his adoption was finalized. We don't have a ton of information on his first 4 years and what his life was like, but we can assume it wasn't great until his Aunt and Grandma stepped in (Love you Shelly and Judy!!).
No matter how exactly his early life was, it impacted him, and he struggles much of the time with how to act and how to react. He tends to act very impulsively, and react very strongly to everything (happy, sad or mad, you know EXACTLY how he is feeling most of the time).
Add on to this, our son is fairly small for his age, and worse still, he FEELS very small for his age. This means he is an easy target for comments from his peers, which he reacts very strongly to, which results in more comments, which results in stronger reactions...you see the cycle. So...he ends up "bullied" due to his size, his actions, and his reactions.
What happens when a very reactive child feels bullied?
He becomes a bully.
Which means he gets bullied more
Which means he bullies more
again, you see the pattern.
I am still going over the information that I learned at this conference, and plan for Mike and I to have a conversation with both of our kids about bullying. Both receiving it, and causing it.
Those of you who do know us, know that BOTH of our kids have incredibly tender hearts, and hate for anyone to be sad or mad, so I am really hopeful that our conversation can help them respond appropriately if they are bullied, and help them know that being a bully is never okay.
Our world can be hard, and it can cause kids to be cruel. Maybe because they don't have all the "tools" to handle how hard their world is. I don't know. I just do know that I am now much more conscious of this issue than I was before, and hope that I can have a positive impact...