One of my greatest of simple pleasures is to watch my kids play sports. Now out of high school, two of my sons continue to play co-ed softball on the same team during the summer. My husband and I are their biggest fans.
A few weeks ago while sitting in the stands waiting for their ballgame to start, I was observing some children in front of me playing rather rough. As I watched, I wondered if their interaction was simply boys being boys. But the more I observed, the more incensed I became.
After a couple of rounds of pokes and hits, I watched how the bigger of the four kids (I’ll call him Billy the bully) held the arms of the small boy (Vincent the victim) behind his back while urging the boy’s cousin (Cory the cousin) to punch him in the gut. I wondered where their parents were.
The kids moved off to the side while I continued to observe them. Billy then picked up dirt from the ground and threw it Vincent’s face. Vincent, in defense, then picked up a pebble and threw it in the other kids’ direction. This is when all three of the other children—one being a girl—each pelted Vincent with rocks.
That was it! This wasn’t just boys’ play. This was outright bullying.
I walked over to those kids to confront them. I told them to stop and encouraged them to apologize to Vincent who, at this time, was sitting on the ground with his face buried in his hands, crying. I let them know their behavior of bullying Vincent was unacceptable and that they should be ashamed of themselves.
Fearing the possibility of the involvement of a nearby police officer, Billy apologized. He urged his friends to do the same. The girl, who ashamedly never made eye contact with me, reluctantly apologized at the insistence of Billy. Shockingly, Cory defiantly refused to apologize, insisting that Vincent started it!
When a mother walked over to see what was going on, I told her about the bullying and left the situation in her capable hands. After checking on the crying boy, I walked away so very glad that I was able to diffuse that situation.
Will bullying ever go away? No. Did my interference alter the behavior of those kids for the better? Probably not. But in that moment in time, I was able to give one child back his dignity and assure him that he, too, is a child of God.
Each of us, individually, can make a positive difference in the lives of others by intervening in these types of hostile situations. May each of us begin TODAY to get involved and to make that difference.
Feature photo by: DIGITALART
Photo by: AKARAKINGDOMS