I still remember, as if it were yesterday, the first time I was bullied. I was in the second grade and my family was experiencing a rough time. My father was having 'night terrors.' He had survived being an Army officer in World War II in the Battle of Cherbourg. For a time, he was a very, successful business owner and then one day memories began to surface, flashbacks of war. He lost his business, and we were lucky to keep a roof over our heads.
I went from wearing store-bought clothes to donations given by neighbors. These clothes were faded and no longer in fashion and the students in my class began to ridicule me. But they did not put their hands on me!
Even though, Mrs. Hague did speak to the teasers, it did stop, but my self-esteem took a nosedive. Once when you're teased or picked on, the only thing you can think about is not to cry. You can't help but wonder what will happen the next day and the day after that. It's very hard to pay attention in class and to complete your class assignments, without wondering if someone is talking about you behind your back.
Third grade turned out to be better, even though family finances had not changed. My teacher, Mrs. Bray, was very strict and she ruled that classroom. However, back then, corporal punishment was allowed, and she used it! Parents seldom question when their child got a spanking and that's because the parent supported the teacher.
A favorite skilltext reading activity, used by many teachers (when it was offered for free), is one that involves bullying. An owl is picked on by several blue jays and it's quite simple how he handles the situation. This story opens the door in having a conversation about bullying.