the schmooze
Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe
Syosset, New York

Those who can, do.
Those who can't, BULLY.
Tim Field

"Oktober" is National Bullying Prevention Month. Approximately 160,000 children in the U. S. stay home because of fear of bullying.

Bullying is a devastating form of abuse that can have longterm effects on youthful victims. "Der korbn" (victim) is robbed of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing them to drop out of school, and even prompting health problems and "ZELBSTMORD" (suicide).

The most recent case of suicide involved the Rutgers University freshman, Tyler Clementi, who jumped off the GW Bridge after a sexual encounter with another man was broadcast online.

Glennda Testone, the executive director of the Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual & Transgender Community Center in NYC serves about 50 "yung" people a day, often suffering from "bullying," harassment or even violence."

A recent study by the Family and Work Institute reported that one-third of youth are bullied at least once a month. Others say six out of 10 American "tsenerlingn" (teenagers) witness bullying at least once a day. Witnessing bullying can be harmful, too, as it makes "der eydes" (the witness) feel helpless - or that he or she is the next target.

Children are bullied for many reasons.

Which student is most likely to be bullied?
A) obese children
B) people with social anxiety
C) bookworms
The correct answer is A.

According to Pamela Paul ("Maybe Bullies Just Want To Be Loved") says that "Overweight children may be in for the worst of it...obese children are likely to be bullied--regardless of gender, race, socioeconomic status or academic achieve- ment...bullied obese kids experience more depression ("dershlogn") and anxiety."

. Children who are bullied are more likely to be distracted from learning, get poorer grades, and become victims of violent crime.

. Children who are bullied lose faith in the ability of "der dervaksener" (the adult) to help them.

. Bullies can grow up to be adult bullies.

. Some students are teased mercilessly on Facebook.

. Bullying is NOT a normal part of "kindhayt" (childhood)!

. When onlookers provide an "oylem" (audience) for bullying by standing around, watching or laughing, they unwittingly encourage or prolong the behavior.

. When bullying results in suicide, we use the term "bullycide." The coroner usually records an open verdict. Unlike a physical injury or physical cause of death, a psychiatric injury cannot be studied and recorded after death. All the coroner has is (sometimes) the suicide letter and "ale mol" (always) the denial of everyone who contributed to the bullycide: the bullies, the witnesses of bullying, and those in authority who SHOULD HAVE acted but didn't. That open verdict is not much relief to the family of the deceased.

. The word "mobbing" is preferred to "bullying" in continental Europe and in those situations where a target is selected and bullied (mobbed) by a group of people rather than by one individual. Every group has a ringleader.

. Senate Republicans are seeking laws to require schools to discourage bullying and cyber bullying. This can be accomplished by enforcing suspension and other school disciplinary actions. We must require school employees to report incidents or potentially face a misdemeanor.

Some schools turn to surveillance cameras to quell student disturbances. "The quickest way to break up a fight is to show up with a video camera," said Ronald Stephens. "Kids don't want to be caught on tape." Videotaping makes sure that "umshuldik" (innocent) people aren't being punished wrongly.

In Elise Mac Adam's excellent book, "See Dick Bite Jane - A Think and Do Book for Parenting Predicaments Big and Small"), we read the following letter:

Dear Elise,
I suspect that my son (who is eight) is being bullied at school or on the school bus. He won't say anything about it but has gotten really quiet and keeps trying to stay home for manufactured ailments. The reason I think it is bullying and not just a mopey phase is that he made references to something happening on the bus a while ago. When I press him he gets angry and says I can't do anything. I don't want to rock the boat, but he seems miserable. --Panicky Parent

Elise Mac Adam responded:

Dear Panicky,
Try not to freak out, but don't stand by and hope that this will just go away on its own. If you suspected any other pending problem you would try to get to the bottom of it. Investigate, in spite of your son's desire to keep it private.

It wouldn't hurt to take your kid to the pediatrician to make sure there isn't a physical issue masquerading as something external. Then make inquiries at the school, with his teachers and guidance counselors. Speak to the school bus company as well. Regardless of your son's wishes, you are his advocate and mother. If he is being bullied, work with the school and the bus company to put a stop to it. This is their responsibility as well as yours. There's no question that it is difficult, but as you can see, ignoring it hasn't helped. Don't let your kid's embarrassment scare you off. Your son has to take medicine when he's sick, in spite of not liking the taste of it, doesn't he? Similar reasoning applies here.

The Yiddish expression, "A shver hartz redt a sach" (a heavy heart talks a lot) may not always be true. Your child may NOT divulge that someone is stealing his lunch, pushing him around, and calling him names in front of the other children.

What Yiddish expression do we use when referring to someone who bullies? "Er iz a nider trechtiker yung. Er iz an oysvurf." (He's a low-down good-for-nothing.)

. Assembly-type programs that encourage children to write down the names of aggressors and hand in slips of paper to the teacher--can actually contribute to a climate of shame and blaming that fosters bullying.

. Sexting is a form of bullying.

In conclusion, Elise Mac Adam states that if your child is being bullied, act swiftly, keep asking for help until you get it, consider therapy for your child, and even consider a new school for your child, especially if the administration isn't helpful.


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Marjorie Gottlieb Wolfe is the author of
two books:
yiddish for dog and cat loversbook
"Yiddish for Dog & Cat Lovers" and
"Are Yentas, Kibitzers, & Tummlers Weapons of Mass Instruction?  Yiddish
Trivia."  To order a copy, go to her

NU, what are you waiting for?  Order the book!

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