I warned them not to tell.
I was pleasantly surprised to see I Don’t Want to be a Bully is my best seller. I shouldn’t have been, though. I wrote this story because my daughter really did push down two kids at recess. She did it because they didn’t want to play a game her way. She told them not to tell on her.
There were consequences for her behavior. She lost recess time. She had to see the principal. At home, she was grounded for two days.
But the purpose in giving consequences is to correct a behavior. I strongly believe that children need to know why a behavior is wrong if we expect them to make a change.
I Don’t Want to be a Bully is told through the perspective of the child who hurt the others. It walks readers through the aftermath of bullying, and it leads to more self-awareness in the end. I want readers to know that hurting others is wrong, but also that they can make a conscious effort to change their behaviors.
“I warned them not to tell.” This is the most important part of the story for me. Kids lose their tempers. They make mistakes. But when you threaten someone not to tell, when you make them feel scared to stand up for themselves, that is true bullying.
In my book, the teacher tells the student that threatening the others not to tell is just as bad as pushing them down. I want my readers to understand this, and I hope their parents can use this as a talking point. Taking away someone’s power to self-advocate is incredibly harmful.
One mistake doesn’t make you a bully. Two or three or four mistakes doesn’t make you a bully. The point is that we all screw up, but we can learn, grow, and heal. Let’s make sure we teach this to our children.