From Playground to Pixels: How to Combat Childhood Bullying


Welcome to episode 15 of the Light Her Project Podcast.

Real women.

With real talk.

I'm Rachel Strella.

And I'm Vixen Divine.

Thank you so much for tuning in today.

Today's discussion is all about bullying.

This is a very pervasive topic and we're

actually gonna break it into two episodes.

So today we're gonna focus on bullying


And our next episode will feature adult

bullying, which is very much alive and real.

In both episodes, we'll also touch on the

topic of online bullying, which is very

much prevalent today.



Let's get started.

We'd like to start our episodes with

personal experiences.

So, you know, talking about bullying in

our childhood from our perspective.

So I can recall a few instances of

bullying growing up.

The first one, I was very young.

I don't know what you call that.

Older than a toddler, but not an


I was probably around three or four.


And I lived in this neighborhood where

all these older girls were all hanging


And I was a couple of years younger.

Well, like they would put sand in my

mouth, from the sandbox and they wouldn't

let me leave to go

home until I swallowed it.

I remember coming home and choking because

I had swallowed so much sand and that was

just one of maybe 10 different things they

would do just because they could.

In junior high, I got picked on a lot.

I didn't have a lot of money and so I

didn't have the nicest clothes.

You know, like most people wore Nikes.

They had Jansport backpacks, all that


I had like whatever the Walmart brand was.

So I got picked on a lot,

teased a lot.

And one thing I remember in high school, I

was in the Honor Society and every year

they had a Christmas show.

So I was actually supposed to play one of

the teachers.

during that Christmas show.

And I rehearsed my lines and I was ready

to roll.

And the day of the show, I went to the

auditorium for the rehearsal and I was

told that someone else was playing the


Apparently there was a meeting earlier in

the week and because I didn't attend, they replaced me.

No one made me aware of any meeting.

So, obviously I've had a lot of different

experiences throughout childhood.

Okay, I don't have a whole lot, but I have

one in particular.

I had more than one, but this one in

particular really does stand out to me.

I remember I was in elementary school, and

I think I was in about the third grade,

and my parents got called to the school.

And you know, when the parents get called

to the school, you know, you usually, oh,

that's, you did something wrong.

But I couldn't figure out what I did


I was like, ugh.

You know, I knew they were coming, but I didn't know

what the meeting was about.

I didn't have anything obvious that I had

done that I'm like, oh crap, I'm in trouble now, you know.

So the parents get to the school, find out

that they want to move me to another

school because basically I was in a

general elementary school, the one that

was closest to my house, but they wanted

to move me to an accelerated elementary

school, which you think is a good thing,

but it really is not.

I mean at the school, you know, you learn

to play an instrument you learned

different languages and so on so forth cause

they just I was just too smart for this school.

They just thought it'd be wasted for me.

So I go to this new school.

It's in the middle of the year mind you so

I'm the new kid, right?

Well, I was bullied but it was by the

teacher. The teacher yelled at me.

She scared me so bad

I literally would skip school.

Like I'd hide in the bathroom.

I would not go to class.

I was so scared of this teacher.


Now I'm this little kid and teacher full

grown up, you know?

And I'm in a new school.

I don't really have any friends because

I'm in a new school.

And I was just this teacher.

I don't remember her name.

She was an Asian woman and the school was

Ben Franklin and she was awful.

She was absolutely awful.

And my parents had never yelled at me like

that before.

I was a good kid, like you said, I was, you

know, on a roll, good, you know, no

problems, but it was awful.

It was absolutely awful.

So my experiences with actually peers was

a lot better than actually teachers.



My parents eventually found out, because I was too

scared to tell anybody.

This is a teacher, right?

Right, right.

So my parents eventually found out and all

that, but it was terrible.

It wasn't.

It was, you know, she's what, three times

my size, at least.

I had a similar situation happen to me in

first grade like that.

So I understand that it's so complex

because when you're a child, you don't

really understand.

You know, why, why you've been treated

this way or how to respond to it.

You feel like you did something wrong.

Right, and it's complicated because as a

kid, then you're always taught to tell the teacher, right?

You know, tell the grown-up, right?

So what do you do when it is the teacher,

when it is the grown-up?

Great question.

No, yeah, I don't think we empower enough

for that but. Well, let's go into some

questions. The first question today is

what would you do if you were the parent of a bully?

Wow, so the way I grew up and you can

probably relate to this Vixen, you get

your butt kicked if you were picking on

other people or bullying and your parents

found out,

you know, so

That was a no brainer growing up, but in my

case, I guess, you know, I think about the

way that bullies get their power and they

make others feel inferior.

So I think my first instinct would be to

find out what is emotionally lacking from

the child that they feel they need to

bully others.

You know, and that's not an easy thing to

figure out because kids, they act out for

a lot of different reasons.

I think being aware of the fact the child

is a bully is a first step.

And I imagine some parents are surprised

or probably even in disbelief when they

discover their child is a bully.

I think it just takes a certain level of

emotional intelligence to navigate that properly.

But I think it would really depend on the

child's personality, you know, and the

type of bullying, how I would handle it.

It's a really complicated thing.

I think you're right in the respect of,

you have to find out, you have to first

acknowledge it because some parents, they

just are in denial.

They do not wanna believe that their child

would ever do that.

Susie says, Janice hit me, she hits me

every day.

Well, Janice would never do that.

Susie would never do that.

She'd never receive such things.

She'd never give such things.

That's the parent talking.

Like my child would never do that.

Or there's the case where the parent says,

well, what did you do?

What made her, what did you do to make her

do that?

That one.

So as a parent though, you have to be

accepting that the possibility is there

before you even investigate.

You won't investigate if you don't even

believe that it could happen.

Because some parents are like that.

They're like, uh-uh.

So once you're past that, once you

actually believe that this is possible, I

feel like you look into it without the kid

knowing it.

You observe.

You become very observant first to see,

start seeing with those eyes now, and then

you see if it's really what's behind it.

I feel like if you don't tell them first,

because if you tell them, then they may

start acting differently.

True, true.

Especially if they are a bully, they'll

know how to manipulate.


So I feel like that's your first step.

Being observant, understanding, and then

taking the appropriate action.

Like you said, depending on the type of

bullying that's happening.

If it is indeed happening, depending on

the type.

But yeah, the first thing I do is accept

it, the possibility of such, and then

observe it without saying anything so that

their behavior doesn't change.

Right, right, all right.

Well, let's go to another question.

So what's the right thing to teach, you

know, young kids about responding to bullies?

I mean, what would you teach them so that

they aren't bullied, that they're kind,

productive members of society?

Okay, so I got a lot to say about this


What you teach your kids and how you

respond, it depends on the type of

bullying that they're receiving.

If they're receiving physical bullying, I

always say that first, if somebody's

hitting you, you do not.

I don't care, honestly, I really don't

care what the rules are.

You do not take that.

You do not take it, period, end of story.

You will get your, you know, repercussions


But you do not sit there and

let them hit you.

You fight back every single time,

every time.

So after that, if you get past that,

because that's the big thing, you deal

with that, the police, all that physical

stuff later.

But if it's mental bullying, the only way

you have to understand that the only way

that your child can be bullied is if they

let themselves be bullied.

Because I, as a person, say I'm a kid,

and you're a kid in the same class, I can

say anything I want.


End of story.

But if you don't care, if what my words

say have no power to you, it will make

absolutely no difference to you.

But if you care about what I say, oh my

gosh, she's got on that pink jacket.

I want one too.

She told me I can't have one.

You know, if you care about that, then

it's going to affect you.

So that's the first thing I'm gonna teach.

I'm gonna do my, cause some kids it's

really hard to accept that.

So you really have to start this early.

You really have to let them know that what

other kids say should be taken with a grain of salt.

And how you relay that to your child

depends of course on your child's personality.

Mm-hmm, right.

Well, I feel similar.

I don't think anyone ever knows the right

thing, but I think my approach would be to

ignore the bully, with the exception, of

course, of physical interactions.

But you can't feed into it.

Bullies gain their power when they see

that their tactics are working.

So the more they see it affects you, the

more they're going to do it.

I think.

It's not an easy thing for a child to just

ignore a bully.

But I'd recommend they have to find a way

to separate themselves in their reactions

to the bully as much as possible.

And there is times, there are times when

you have to stand up to a bully, but every

situation is different.

There's something called this very popular

type of bully.

It's called bully victim.

And these are the bullies who were victims


So they gain power and

control in their lives by bullying other


It's kind of like a way to retaliate for

the pain they've experienced.

And I think it's really important to be

aware of this type of bullying and know

how to navigate that conversation with a


You know what what's happened to them that

they're acting that way.

I just don't think kids have the emotional

development you know to really fully understand how to

handle bullies and I think that's where

parents really need to be aware of what's

going on with the child and know when

something's off.

I agree that the kids do not have that

understanding as of yet but kids I find

that kids are really good with direction

and given tasks so that's why I feel like

if you start younger like don't wait until

they're being bullied you know if they

have that in their upbringing

if they have the defense mechanism that

you've instilled upon them, then when that

comes up and if that comes up, it may

never come up.

But if that does come up, they'll be like,

oh, okay.

They'll know what to do or at least have

an idea of what to do and when to bring it up to you.

Cause then they're not confused.

They're like, hmm, Sally's doing this

mommy, Sally's doing this.

She's doing kind of what you said, you

know, and then they'll have a conversation with that.

And they'll kind of be armed and

equipped a little bit.

So you really can't wait, I feel like,

until the situation happens.

It's kind of got to be in your

conversation prior to.

Right, yeah.

And it goes back to observing.

Like you said, you really have to know,

you know, what's going on.

So let's go to another question.

So when you, you know, when you're a young

girl, you know, what, what being bullied

by a girl versus being bullied by a boy,

what's the difference there?

I found that the difference there, if

someone was challenging me, whether it was

a boy or a girl, I did react pretty much

the same way.

I never had the mean girl type of

bullying, whereas because you got, I didn't care.

I didn't care if Sally wore whatever she

wore, I don't give a crap.


I was really the type that was, I remember

this boy and I didn't remember that I

hurt him so bad, okay?

But later on, like I had seen him later in

life and he remembered that I knocked him

down a hill.

And when he said it, then I remembered,

but I think you have to treat them the same way.

And I feel like there wasn't really a


I think, because all the bullying type was

the same for me.

It wasn't, and I know what you mean as far

as like that.

I think of that Mean Girl movie, you know,

how the girls are like all prissy and

separate and like that kind of thing,

whereas the boys are all, like that never happened.

There was no separation like that.

If they were picking on you, they were

picking on you.

You know, they just found a reason,

whatever it was.

So for me, it was all in the same


So I treated everyone that same way.


Yeah, I kind of feel similar.

I mean, you know me, I like to resort to


So, you know, research said that females are

more like you said the mean girl kind of,

they call it relational aggression.

So that's more of like emotional bullying.

And man like they engage in more physical


But I mean, you've seen, most of us have

seen the movie Mean Girls, where it's just

the backstabbing, the cliques, you know,

making some, you know, making fun of someone

for how they look.

I can agree that this happened, you know,

to me.

I don't know that I ever really got

bullied by a boy per se.

If I did, I think it was they picked on

me, like when they were in a group

together and they were trying to look

cool, you know, but I don't think I was

ever bullied, you know, or isolated by

a boy, I just, usually the girls were in

packs too.

Like they didn't really come up to you and

just bully you.

You know, it's, but I think that's also

part of like that age group, you know,

they do, you know, you do things together

a lot.


They do, they do.

I just, I found it is one of those things

where when kids got together and they did

have cliques, you know, there was, you

kind of knew who was gonna sit at what lunch table.

Do you know what I mean?

Cause they sat together all the time, you

know, that kind of thing.

So I feel like when kids got together and

the boys now back in my school, boys and

girls did sit together.

Like it wasn't separate.

So if this pack was talking about somebody, all

of them were talking about somebody boy or girl.

Do you know what I mean?

So it wasn't really separate, like that,

like the first time I ever saw even a

whole circle of like girls dancing

together was I was visiting another school.

I was just like that's not a thing.

You dance with a boy, like you don't, all

these girls were dancing together.

I'm like no, but it was a thing.

It was a thing.


We didn't really have that separation in

the environment that I grew up in and I

grew up in inner city schools and we

didn't have that separation.

You know, and we're, I think about it this

way, our perspective is from us as women.

You know, I don't know how men interact or

boys interact, you know, with the bullying

to each other, but I would assume it's

like the research says.

It's probably a lot

more physical aggression.

Yes, yes it is.

And now in my time growing up, physical

aggression and mental aggression were

basically in the same because you know

what, if you were too mental, if you got

on my nerves too much, guess what?

I'm meeting you at the playground at three

after school.

So it's gonna turn into that.

And everybody knows that there's gonna be

a fight at three after school.


And I feel like that was a time when it

was safe to fight.

Like it was a victor and there was a loser

and you moped for a few days or whatever.

And then there was the next fight and then

it was over.

Like that kind of thing.

So it was hashed out, it was over and

that was it.


No, I agree.

Things are different now, as we know.

Well, while we're talking about that,

let's talk about how technology has changed bullying.


I mean, let's face it, it's changed

basically everything about bullying.

I mean, we can hide behind the screen, a

fake profile and just hurt others.

And I think social media is a breeding

ground for this.

And the way I look at it is we like to

showcase our best selves on social media.

And it's, it's obviously easy for us to

get jealous of others, you know, because

we're always showing our perfect

life right and we compare you know and I

think that can lead to a lot of

self-loathing you know and I think that's

a big part of why younger folks um

engage in this like really negative

behavior online and others just trash

people because they can they troll because

they can you know but the more popular you are

Oftentimes more hate you get, you know, in

the online world.

It's almost the opposite of what it was

like, you know, face-to-face interaction.

Because you're right, they have that

screen to hide behind.

Half the things people say online, they

would not say to your face because when

they get up off the floor, they would see

that's the thing.

They're hiding back there, but you know


Go ahead.

Like, you know I'm a Gen Xer, you gonna

get up off the floor.

And that's what we did.


The things that people think about, they

have too much time to be thinking about these things.

A lot of times the trollers, they are,

they're on social media way too much.

They don't have a lot of time to spend

with their families.

They much rather spend their time online.

Like they're eating, they're eating with

their cell phones.

Like they're literally eating with, like

they can't put it down.

It's very sad actually.


It’s very sad.

So these people, they, it does make for

the perfect environment, I will say that,

the perfect environment to talk bad about


Rarely do you find someone lifting someone

up because they did such a good job or,

you know, that's about three to one.

Right, right.

Whereas that could also be used for good,

you know, but it is like three to one.


I think the person who is trolling online

is just something that they have too much

time on their hands.

And usually that same person, their income

is very low.



Yeah, there is a lot of research about



Their income is very low.

That troll, they try to down someone else

because they don't have a lot.

No, it's true.

It's true, very much so.

If there's a lot we could say about the

technology side.

So we'll talk about what we're seeing.

So Anna, who was on the podcast before in

our aging episode, she writes a column for

my company and it's called Hot Take.

And a few weeks ago, she wrote a column

about why teenagers should not be on social media.

So as many of us know, some parents are

suing social media companies in response

to teenagers who committed suicide.

As a result of being on social


So in her column, she formulates a theory

that today's internet has, I'm quoting

her, melded the reality between life and

online content, leading vulnerable

populations like teenagers to take the

branding tactics of social media marketing

and apply them to themselves and their

sense of self.

So she cites research that articulates how

teenagers are

so inundated with social media, but they

now see the world as a foundation upon

which to build content not actually live


So there's this intertwined nature between

self and the internet.

So very interesting stuff.

Vixen, what do you think?

Should teenagers be on social media?

Well, here's the thing, they should be,

but here's the problem with that.

I feel like a lot of parents are not

taking responsibility.

You know, who's paying for that internet?

Who's paying for that cell phone?

Who's paying for that computer?

Who's paying for the tablet, right?

It's usually not the teenager, it's

usually the parent.

So you give them these things and you're

like saying, oh, here you go, do what you want now.

No guidance.

No, half the time they don't even know who

half their friends are.

That's a deal that I had.

I remember you could be on there, but I

had to be your friend.

You couldn't block me.

I had to be able to see all the friends

and anytime that I requested that I wanted to see, you know,

conversations or whatever, I was able to

do that.

And if not, there was problem.

So parents are not involved.

I mean, yes, the social media companies

and the networks and all these, they can

do their best, but they are not you.

They are not there to raise your child.

They are not there.

That content that your child's seeing,

maybe your child shouldn't be seeing.

You know.

That's your responsibility.

As a parent, you cannot blame someone else

for that.

That is all you.


I mean, the algorithms and things like

that, that push content, you know, to be

seen, they know what they're doing.

But I agree with you.

It is, it is the parents responsibility.

And a lot of them, I mean, they give them

these electronic devices and that's their

babysitting tool.

You know, they're not.


So while we're talking about that, you

know, one thing that we're seeing too, you

know, you can limit content.

Comments on certain posts and things, you

know, you can even filter and censor

certain words so that if that word's used,

you're not going to see it, it's not going to publish.

An example would be Kim Kardashian’s daughter,

North, she has a TikTok and she posts

regularly, but she has all the comments

turned off.

So, you know, this is what the public

assumes to protect her from bullying and

people commenting.


I work in social media.

I think turning off comments defeats the

purpose of social media.

However, in this case, when a child is

involved, especially a celebrity, it's a necessary measure.

I don’t think that the comments

should be turned off.

I think because you can't hide from the


If you wanted to hide from the world, then

you probably shouldn't be on social media at all.

Do you know what I mean?

I think it's a time when you can filter

that or you can look with them, you know,

and explain to them what is happening.

I've called it teachable moments because

there are, I agree totally with filtering

words, you know, and then that helps with

the comments and that sort of thing.

They don't need to see that.

But, um, turning them all off.

Because you can't turn off the world when

you're out at a restaurant.

You can't filter what that guy says about


So you need to know how to react to that

guy saying something about you.

Or to you.

Do you know what I mean?

So you can't filter out the world or you


filter out the world, filter out certain

things, you know, but you should be,

again, that parent should be a parent.

And if you don't have time to do that,

then back off their time that they're on there.

Cause like you said, it shouldn't be a

babysitting tool.

And you know what?

There are tons of books to read, tons.

I agree.

I think there's a lot of different

elements to this particular case.

So by the way, I just googled it

North West, that's her name.

She's 10 years old.

You know, I mean, well, we think teenagers

shouldn’t be on social media, I mean, 10 years old,

that's still really young.


I don't know how teachable moments, how

many you can have when you have kids that

are eight, nine, ten on social media.

Like it's still very young, but I agree,

you know, as you get older and they start

to learn their interactions more in

teenagers and that's a little different.

And we're also talking about a celebrity.

So it's like, there's just, it's just a

very different, you know, scenario.

I think it's great that she's on it and

her mom is active in the account.

So that's good.

It gives her that opportunity for that

freedom to still be able to do things like everybody else.

But you have to shelter her a little bit.


I agree with you.

It's different because she's famous.

You know, she's not going to get the

normal amount of comments.

She's probably, she probably would get

like a ton crap load, basically of

comments, all different kinds, you know,

because she's famous.

But, um, for the regular 10 year old, I

definitely think, yeah, my comments

basically for a regular 10 year old, but

I definitely think that the parents and

I'm noticing that actually across the

board that the parents are not as involved

in their upbringing and they're doing this crazy thing.

Are you noticing this too?

Where parents are letting their children

make their own decisions.

Meaning, and I don't mean like what to


I mean like real decisions.

Yeah, I know what you're saying.

They're making them become adults.

Exactly, exactly.

And then, of course, half the time they're

making the wrong decisions.

But that's what they do because they're


You know, they're not, you can, I used to

call it, okay, we're going to practice

adulting today.

That's what I'd say.

And then I'd give them the scenario.

And then I'd see what they choose.

And then we talk about it, if it was the

right choice or the wrong choice.

So we would practice this.

When they were younger as opposed to,

because one day, you know, they make these

decisions on their own, but they are

actually letting them make the actual

decisions on their own without a fully

developed brain, without, oh, this is what

he wants to do.

This is what she wants to do.

This is what they feel like.



They feel this way because they're 10.

That to me is this inexcusable.

I mean, it's poor parenting, it's no


You know, and then they're going to blame

somebody else when something messes up.

Let's blame social media then.

So yeah, it's a sad reality.

I'm glad we're bringing this issue to the


And, you know, we're going to talk about

this more next week.

We're going to talk about adult


But in the meantime, for all the people listening, if

you have anything you want to be talking

about, share it with us, share it on

social media so we can, you know,

incorporate it into the next podcast and

we'd really like to hear from everyone and their experiences.

Maybe an ask Rachel or ask Vixen.

Alright so Vixen is there anything

else you’d like to say about this topic?

I’m just saying, my big thing is parents you need

to be aware.

You need to be aware and be open to the

possibility that your child might not be

an angel.



No, I agree with that.

I agree with that.

I'll mention one thing.

So there was a series on Netflix called

13 Reasons Why.

A lot of people have heard of it.

And the first season was met with so much

positive feedback because it really

brought to light some issues that are


But then the subsequent season is not so

much a lot of negative critics.

And, you know, the reason being is there


there were things that were happening in

that show that people were emulating in schools then.

And yeah, so when it comes to stuff like

that, you've gotta be able to have that

relationship with a child to watch

something like this happen and have them

really understand the impact that this


You can't just say, here, go watch some

show, watch whatever you want, you know?

I mean, it's a really sensitive matter,


Just something I think everyone needs to

be aware of, you know, that this stuff

doesn't replace parenting.

Social media, television, doesn't

replace parenting.

Well, thanks everyone for tuning into the

Light Her Project Podcast.

You can follow the conversation online

with our hashtag.

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