Are Cafeteria Tables Turning?

When I was a kid, the bullies ran the schoolyard. They set the tone, called the shots, and if they set their sights on you, you had about ten seconds before all their sheep fell in line and no way to predict when or if the bleating would stop (no offense to actual sheep).

But this week at my child’s school, two eighth graders started making fun of a fifth grader on their way into the lunch room on account of her last name. By the time the fifth grader reached her table, she was in tears.

And then, something incredible happened:

The entire room turned on the two eighth graders.

Within seconds, two kids reported what happened to the teacher on duty. Another two began calling out the bullies for everyone to hear. After the eighth graders were hauled to the office, kids from every grade started rallying around the victim. By the end of the period, she was all smiles and as of Thursday’s after-school report, she continues to enjoy VIP status.

Meanwhile, the two eighth graders have yet to make it down a hallway without facing a slew of tough questions from their peers.

Clearly, bullies have evolved no more than cockroaches over the years (no offense to actual cockroaches). But in my day, it was their victims who stood alone. Could that narrative finally be shifting?

“Mom, everyone knew about it in, like, two minutes. And now the whole school is upset with those girls.”

A lot of days, it feels like our children are inheriting a much darker, scarier world than generations before. But this week, I’m going to let myself hope that just maybe, we’re on the cusp of a new dawn.

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