Thursday, April 19, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Hey teens, don't ignore bullies, stand up to them

“Boobs don't count if you're fat!"

This was a tweet that my 15-year-old, Kourtnie, stumbled across in her Twitter feed courtesy of a fellow student.

Like many kids her age, she is fed up with the verbal bullying on social media.

In the wake of Rebecca Sedwick's suicide after being bullied by several girls, I think it warrants all of our attention.

I've had several discussions with my kids regarding bullying. We've talked about how to ignore, avoid and potentially defend yourself, if necessary.

And we've talked about monitoring their own words. Kourtnie is not without guilt. She posts her emotions and frustrations as most teenagers do, but I truly believe she possesses more compassion for humanity than most.

But I never believed her verbal response, pointing out what was wrong with the bully's post, could diffuse a situation?

Instead of battling Twitter's 140 character limit, Kourtnie resourcefully decided to upload an image with no character limit that could be viewed on Twitter.

Here are a few excerpts of her response to the "boob bully."

Please tell me, what is your idea of a perfect body?

Breasts are made of milk glands and fibrous tissues that connect to form and shape fatty tissues. So, technically, the heavier you are, the more real your breasts are.

There are many factors that determine breast size. In addition to being hereditary, the hormones consumed in your diet can contribute as well.

So, you're telling me a girl that is skinnier than me with smaller breasts is valued differently because I'm larger than her? Are you aware of how ignorant this sounds?

There are women with every breast size losing their breasts due to breast cancer. And I'm quite certain each of those women valued their breasts, regardless of their weight or cup size.

You tweeted this during breast cancer awareness month and it's a hurtful tweet. It's a form of bullying.

I'm not the smallest girl, and I'm not the largest. But I will defend those people who don't deserve to feel bad about themselves because you aren't happy with your breasts.

I could sit here all day and make inappropriate jokes about you and things I know you are insecure about. But, I won't. Because I know you get enough of that. Which is probably why you do this. Just think before you tweet next time.

As a mom, I was innately proud of her, but concerned for the backlash that might come.

Within two minutes of her post, her phone started chiming.

"You made some really good points, I'm not going to lie. I should think first. I don't even know what to say after that, but you put a lot of thought into your reply. I hate my body as much as the next girl and I don't even think about saying stuff like that offending other people. I'm going to take it down. I didn't mean to hurt anyone, but I see now how I could have. I'm sorry."

In reading this, I was speechless. It's textbook, really. Those that "bully" in any form, are just as unhappy if not more than everyone else.

I couldn't help but wonder: Did Kourtnie really get through to her? Did Kourtnie helped her to be kinder, more aware and less angry towards others?

In elementary school, ignoring the bully may work. With teenagers, I am not so sure.

In the Pixar movie A Bug's Life, where grasshoppers bullied the ants, the lead grasshopper reasons: "You let one ant stand up to us, and they all might stand up. Those 'puny little ants' outnumber us a hundred to one. And if they ever figure that out, there goes our way of life."

What if we taught our kids that they outnumber the bullies "a hundred to one?" What would that do to the power of bullies?

Heather Tempesta is a Brandon single mother of two sons, 17 and 10, and a daughter, 15.

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