[quote=master of none]
My daughter quit her swim team because of the bullying. There were 3-4 kids who bullied the rest of the group of 20. They had to be first in line and nobody was to pass them without stiff consequences.
This year, she is on a homeschool swim team and a bully joined late in the season. This girl is just like the other bullies, but the coach took her aside and told her it was important that all the girls get a chance to work hard and swim fast and she needed to work it out with the other girls to figure out who would go first. This was very hard for the girl but with encouragement for a couple of weeks, she eventually was able to let the faster girls go first sometimes. And she's still working on it and beginning to make friends. That's how it's supposed to work!
Yes exactly! And that girl is in the process of learning the boundaries of acceptable behavior in that setting. She is not "innately" a bully and given an environment with proper support and expectations, she can learn to get along with the other kids.
And to expand on my point about expectations and the over-emphasis on bullying, my concern is that if we, as a culture, accept stereotypes about who are the bullies and who are the victims, this sets up a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. And it discourages kids from making gestures of kindness across these social boundaries. There are so many cultural depictions of athletes as bullies for example, how about all those kids who play sports and AREN'T bullies? And I am sure somewhere there is a "theater kid" who is a bully. In some ways, we justify the behavior by attaching it to these social categories.
And I just want to share a story about something my friend's son did. He's a fifth grader and he observed another kid physically bullying a special ed boy in the class. He intervened, protected the victim, then went straight to the office and told them what happened. He got in trouble for fighting, receiving a detention under the "no tolerance" policy of the school (which strangely enough did not apply to the bully who got into no trouble at all?!). He dutifully did his time in detention, but made himself a badge that said "I am proud of my detention because I stood up for my friend!" They made him take it off in detention, but his teacher let him put it back on in class!