3. Bullying

Living with PC can be tough at times and sometimes, bullies make it even tougher!  Bullying is when someone picks on you over and over again. The person doing the bullying feels they have more power over you in some way – either they are stronger, more popular or more confident.  Bullying is something that is done on purpose and it can be done by one person or by lots of people acting together.

Bullies can hurt you physically by hitting you or stomping on your feet, but they can also hurt you emotionally by teasing you about your PC, calling you names or putting you down. Over time, bullying can make you feel pretty sad about yourself. But it’s really important to remember that you are not alone and there are ways to get bullies to stop.  Remember, no one deserves to be bullied, whether they have PC or not.

There are lots of good resources out there on the best ways to handle bullies, but below are some of our top tips.

Tips for stopping bullies:

  • Ignore them: Bullies want attention.  Try not to engage with the bullying. Don’t argue with them and don’t attack back. Try not to get upset and try not to let them see you get upset. Remember that they are just trying to get attention and if it doesn’t work, they may get bored and move on.
  • Teach them about PC: Sometimes explaining your condition is the best way to stop the bullies. Help people understand what PC is and show them that it is just a condition you have. Your parents might be able to help you practice explaining your PC in a simple way to other people. You could also practice explaining it to a good friend – the more your friends understand about PC, the more they will look out for you and can teach others.
  • Recognise your worth: You are a wonderful person with unique skills and strengths. You have PC, but you are not defined by PC. Do things that you love and that you are good at. This will make you feel stronger in yourself so that you can stand up to the bullies.  It will also help people see you for your other interests, not just for your PC.
  • Surround yourself with nice people: Find a group of friends that are positive and nice.  Focus on spending time with these people.
  • Get help: You don’t need to fight the bullies on your own. Get help! Tell your parents or your teacher.  It could be that you are not the only person getting bullied and your story will also help other children.

What you need to know:  Bullying is 100% wrong.  Nobody deserves to get bullied.

Below are some awesome ideas that other PC children and parents have said or done to stop the bullies

“No, I’m not contagious. Yes, you can play with me. I like toys too and playing tag.”

“We have different color eyes, different kinds of styles, different types of nails. What’s the difference?”

“Dealing with truly malicious bullies is one thing, where kids probably shouldn’t engage and should just laugh, turn around and walk away. But most kids aren’t malicious, just ignorant. They might hold their nose and say “eew! Gross!” when they see PC feet. If this happens to you, you can just say “it’s not gross. It’s just different. It’s called PC and sometimes it really hurts. If you want I can show you more and tell you all about it”. Try not to believe anyone who says it’s yucky, disgusting or gross (or that you should just take care of your feet more). Remember that’s it’s not your fault that you have this and feel sorry for anyone who feels so insecure that they feel like they have to belittle you for your condition.”

“I’m beautifully different and beautifully me. I’m so unique that there’s only 792 people that we know of in the world like me! I can’t control the fact that I was born different, but you can control the way you treat me!”

“As a child I never really handled bullies in a way I would condone others repeating. However, as a parent of a PC child I take a different approach. Every year I have a meeting with his new teacher first and explain it to her. Then I ask her when would be a good time to come in and talk to the class about it. I go up and introduce myself as “Wyatt’s Mom” and tell them we’re going to learn some super advanced biology today. Stuff that’s usually for big kids to learn but that they’re special so they get to learn it now. I tell them about PC, how it happens and etc. Just the basics in terms that are kid friendly. Then I tell them Wyatt has it just like I do and explain a little about how it looks/feels and what it’s like to have it and live with it. When I’m done I give them the chance to ask me questions and share how they feel about it. The only year he was ever teased was kindergarten because that was the only year I didn’t do it. He’s going into 4th grade now and we’ve never had another problem with bullying.”

“I just print the brochures off the PC website and give to any new teachers.”

“My boys were being spit on while riding the school bus. All the ‘spitters’ were kids from a stop not in our neighbourhood so no one knew our family. One day, Dave and I went with our boys to that bus stop where both kids and parents were waiting for the bus to come. We worked the crowd, showing them all our nails, explaining PC a little bit. Parents and children alike were interested. Needless to say, our boys were never bullied again on that bus after our little PR campaign.

I also actually role-played with my children as to how to explain what they had to other children. I even shrugged with my shoulder when I said after explaining, “No big deal.” Soon after, I was volunteering in the school when I overheard another child ask mine what was wrong with his nails. He basically repeated what we practiced including the shoulder shrug and the words, “No big deal”. The other child accepted it all as no big deal and moved on.”

Bullying resources for parents, teachers, students:

  • The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) – According to the NCPC website, “bullying can be a gateway behavior, teaching the perpetrator that threats and aggression are acceptable even in adulthood.” The NCPC has a page dedicated to bullying with great information and a variety of resources for parents, teachers, and students. Visit their website at https://www.ncpc.org/resources/bullying/.
  • The Pacer Center is a parent center for families of children and young adults with disabilities. Along with the National Coalition for Parent Involvement in Education, the NEA, and the National PTA, the PACER Center sponsors bullying prevention month.
  • WEB MD Bullying Resources: A comprehensive view of why bullying happens and what can be done about it.
  • StopBullying.gov is designed to help parents identify what is bullying, who is at risk, how to prevent it and respond to it, and also, how to get help. Visit their website at www.stopbullying.gov for ideas to help your child deal with this issue. Of particular interest to FIRST members is the link at the bottom of the page with information about ‘Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs.’ There is a wonderful tip sheet on this page with information about what you can do to help your child.
  • Mr. John Halligan, who lost his son Ryan as a result of bullying, travels the country hosting seminars about bullying, how to recognize it, and most importantly how to learn the signs that your child is being bullied. Visit his website www.ryanpatrickhalligan.org for detailed information about the presentation and also for a schedule of Mr. Halligan’s appearances across the country.

PC Kids Corner:

  1. What is PC?
  2. Explaining your PC
  3. Bullying
  4. Managing your PC at home
  5. Managing your PC with a professional
  6. Living with PC
  7. For Parents and caregivers of children with PC
  8. Supporting PC Project and the PC Community
  9. PC kids and teens- The brilliant things kids with PC are achieving!

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Category: PC Kids Corner