Heads in Hoods: When Our Babies Are Bullied.

9FE6BD9E-965D-416A-8209-B91CF710B037Bullying is a huge topic of discussion in education today. How to notice it? How to prevent it? How to create safe spaces? Will kids even admit when they’re victims?

Kids will. In subtle ways. Through behavior changes. Through slammed doors or quiet car rides. Mainly By “adjusting themselves.”

For example, I was in a 3rd grade class yesterday working with a student. One student calls out to him “awwww ****** was talking about your haircut!”

My student literally melts in his chair and pulls his hood over his head. I look at him straight. I’m moved, because he’s moved. I’m
Hurt, because he’s hurt. I softly say “Your haircut is so nice. I like it a lot.”

He smiles and says “thank you.”

“You don’t want to take your hood off?”

He looks at me softly “I usually don’t wear my haircuts out when I first get them done.”

“Are your feelings hurt?” I asked quickly.
“No.” He says grabbing his pencil.

I wondered if that was true or if it was an adjustment. The putting his hood on. I wanted to say something to those little boys, but I just stared at them. In a black momma way. As if this was my child. For a second, my entire heart felt like he was. Maybe, the hurt was familiar. I remember sitting in third grade. Hiding. Wondering how I could adjust myself enough to not get noticed. It never worked.

Then it dawned on me just as I opened my mouth to give those little boys a piece of my mind… “what if he doesn’t want you to respond for him right now?”

“How does he want you to handle this?”
“Maybe, he just needs his hood right now.”

That’s when I realized, as adults when we notice bullying, our first reaction is to shut it down. Take authority. “Ya’ll better cut that out!” “That’s not nice!” “Hit em back!” “I’ll come up to that school!” “Well, you tell them they’re stupid too!” Does that truly help or hinder? Do we become the bullies?

How can we approach children in these vulnerable situations justly, promptly and in an inclusive way?

I suggest LADS:

L- Listen Intently
A- Ask Questions
D- Details Matter
S- Solutions as a team

Solutions as a team? But, I’m the adult! Yes, you are, but the child is the victim. Never tell the victim how to “fix” their issue. Never control their narrative. By sitting with your child and asking “how do you think we should go about this?” “If I were to talk to the principal would that make you uncomfortable?” You’re allowing the child to offer solutions based on their comfort level. You’re meeting your child where they are.

Many times, parents assume going to the school to “put an end to this myself!” Is the best solution. Sometimes, it may be. But, we also have to take into consideration the child’s feelings and the trauma they may have experienced.

SOLUTIONS ARE NECESSARY. You have to put an end to the bullying, but solutions can also be a team effort. This is to ensure that your child feels a part of the process and not bullied into a quick fix. Listening is the main goal. Not “fixing it.” Finding a solution matters, but creating a safe space will ensure your child’s ability to release over time.

Bullying is not a new trend. It’ll probably always be a thing, but the way that we approach it can start to do a little shifting in the culture.

If a child opens up to you about bullying, listen, remind them that they are not alone, Offer them a safe space and work through the process with them.

We’re all we have. ❤️

Much love,
Prepare a Place

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