When we think of bullying, we think of the stronger person victimising the weaker one. The big kid picking on the smaller kid. However, it’s not always the case and it’s the one that goes largely unnoticed. This is the case of the smaller kid who teases or winds up the older one. It is seen as teasing or joking but often times it can be very malicious and it is certainly a form of bullying.
Younger children engage in this sort of bullying because they are sure they will get away with it. If the older child attempts to make a stand, it is that child on whom the adults involved come down on. Adults will spout such gems as “You’re the older one” or “He’s just a little kid” or “He’s younger than you” or “They’re just teasing.” Any attempt by the older child to explain their side is usually ignored or justified away by the above comments. What this does is empower the younger child to do it more reinforced with taunts like “If you touch me, you’ll be in trouble” or threats of the parents getting involved to make it worse. As a result, the older victim is left feeling helpless.
It also doesn’t help that the older child can receive mixed messages from adults. On the one hand, there’s the “They’re smaller than you so don’t take anything from them.” But when the said child doesn’t take it, they get responses of “They’re younger than you or smaller than you so you can fight back.” And because the bullies are smaller and younger whatever they do isn’t supposed to hurt. Well maybe not as much physically but inside, the victim’s self esteem is eroded immensely. One, because they’re getting picked on by smaller children and two, they can’t do anything about it. To make it worse, when the older child does retaliate, they are the ones who are made out to be the bully.
As many who suffer with Asperger’s Syndrome are prime targets for such bullies, the mixed messages can be catastrophic. They are left with the feeling that whatever they do is wrong. They’re damned for letting younger children pick on them and damned if they try to do anything about it. Often times it results in mental overload and can lead to ill health and even a break down.
Book Alert: In “He Was Weird,” Mark does suffer from such bullying. When he’s in fifth grade, a third grader takes his hat. When he attempts to get it back, he is set upon by other fifth graders who threaten him with violence for picking on a smaller kid. At the same time, the third grader is encouraged to exasperate Mark even more. The situation sends him into overload and Mark is left feeling helpless. Furthermore, after the event, it is used by another child to spread the lie that Mark bullies younger children.
The moral of the story is that bullying is bullying no matter who is the perpetrator and who’s the victim. Bullying of older children by younger ones should not in anyway be tolerated in any way. In schools or anywhere else, it needs to be clamped down on by the relevant authority in a way doesn’t have any negative effect on the older child for reporting it. Parents should not see the fact that they’re child can bully an older one as something to be proud of. They need to reinforce the fact that it’s wrong to bully no matter who it is. If we are going to stamp out bullying, then forms such as the one mentioned here needs to be addressed as well.
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