Targeting prey

This week at the Carrot Ranch Charli Mills expresses her admiration for the raptors that “wheel on currents of air high above the La Verkin Overlook” near her new home in Utah. She marvels in their flight and challenges writers to let their imaginations take wing and soar.

Australia, too, is home to a large number of raptors, many endemic, several threatened. You can read about them in this Conservation Statement by Penny Olsen: Australia’s Raptors: Diurnal Birds of Prey and Owls, or in one of Dr Olsen’s many other publications.

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Narelle Oliver’s beautiful picture book Home, which I wrote about in this post, celebrates one of these Australian raptors, the peregrine falcon. The book is based on a true story of a pair of peregrine falcons that nested at the top of a 27-storey building in Brisbane city. The birds, named Frodo and Frieda, fascinated a city and, for a while, had their own reality show “Frodocam”.

As often occurs, my thoughts head off in a different direction when thinking of Charli’s prompt. Rather than the beauty and magnificence of these amazing birds, it was the word “prey” that grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. It pummelled me into submission, like a bully that seeks out the vulnerable when targeting prey.

This may be due to the promotion of October as National Bullying Prevention Month in the US. There the program is called Stomp Out Bullying. In Australia, the The National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence is held on the third Friday of March each year with a program called Bullying. No Way! I wrote about that here. Websites for both programs are packed with useful information and resources for teachers and parents.

It is probably a good thing that these dates don’t align, as there is no time that is not a good time to eradicate bullying.

No bullies allowed

I have previously written about bullying in posts and flash fiction stories, especially those concerning Marnie, about whom I wrote several stories, collected here. Stories about bullying specifically include these:

 

·       Not funny at all! from the post Bully for you!

In this post, I listed books that feature bullies, including:

The fairy tales Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin,

Roald Dahls stories Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Twits, and

Anthony Browne’s Willy the Wimp.

·       Symptoms from the post Displaying symptoms or true colours

In this post, I shared information about a rap version of “True Colours” with additional original anti-bullying content written by 12-year-old MattyB to support his younger sister who is excluded and bullied because of her “symptoms”. Here is the song. Check back to the post for more information.

·       Art class from The story behind brown paint

For this post I wrote a longer story to provide more information about Marnie and the bullying to which she was subjected.

·       Motives from It’s a steal

In this post, I suggested that children who tease, torment and bully are often themselves victims of similar behaviour. They may feel powerless and lack control in their own lives. They are possibly lowest in the pecking order at home, and targeting someone more vulnerable provides an opportunity to find a sense of power; for a while at least.

One of the most effective ways of reducing the incidence of bullying is through the development of social-emotional skills; including helping children develop

  • self-esteem
  • confidence
  • resilience
  • friendship skills and
  • empathy;

in an environment in which they feel welcome, valued, and supported.

We need to model the behaviour we want children to develop, provide them with alternatives to inappropriate behaviour, and teach them how to respond when the behaviour of others upsets them.

It is also important to teach children to recognise bullying and to seek help if they see it occurring. Observing and doing nothing is a way of condoning the behaviour, and the bullying may escalate if an audience gathers. Ignoring bullying in a way also condones it. It is important to take action to prevent or stop it.

Karen Tyrrell, “an award winning Brisbane resilience author who empowers you and your children to live strong”, has written books for both adults and children about bullying. Having been on the receiving end of bullying herself, Karen understands what it is like to be targeted.

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Karen’s books STOP the Bully, for 9 to 12-year-olds and Song Bird for children of 7+ years, both explore issues related to bullying.

Karen told me that “The little boy in the photo read STOP the Bully 6 months earlier after my first book shop visit. Then found me again 6 months later to say thank you when Song Bird came out.”

If you are looking for resources to initiate the discussion about bullying, Karen’s are a good place to start. You may also like to access the free teacher resources and free kids activities Karen has available on her website.

raptors-prompt

Now back to Charli and her birds of prey prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story that includes a raptor.

With apologies to the magnificent birds, I offer my response about a child in need of understanding, and of learning friendship skills such as getting along, caring for others, and empathy.

Prey time

Children chattered like birdsong – not a ruffled feather in sight. If only all playtimes were as peaceful.  Sudden realisation.  She scanned the children. Anxiety stirred.

“Has anyone seen Zane?”

Thomas pointed to a distant figure flitting and swooping, arms outstretched.

“Zane!”

She couldn’t leave him there. Could she?

“I’ll get him, Miss.”

As Thomas approached, Zane screeched and rushed towards him. Thomas fled, missed his footing, and fell. Zane, still screeching, pounced, pinning him down.

“Zane! Let him go!”

“I’m a raptor. He’s my prey.”

Thomas cried. “I’m not playing.”

If he was, it would be more fun.

Thank you

Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts.

30 thoughts on “Targeting prey

  1. Bec Colvin

    That is a powerful FF, Nor. I read it twice to be sure of my understanding. My take is that Zane is left out, and plays in his own way. When he tried to play with another student, because he lacked the friendship to have someone playing with him by choice, the play action was (perhaps intentionally, but I think unintentionally) aggressive. From the way I read it, you have really demonstrated the importance of inclusion and friendship. Thanks for the great post too.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      That is pretty close to my intention in writing, Bec. I have seen children like that. They don’t know how to join in, and don’t realise their actions are inappropriate. If they are only ever scolded or punished but not taught appropriate ways of engaging socially, they will never learn how to be a friend. I’m pleased you enjoyed the post.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  2. Pingback: Flight of Raptors « Carrot Ranch Communications

  3. Charli Mills

    Norah, I love how you went with the direction the prompt sent you and in turn, you found much to share on the topic of bullying. After what you explained about bullies reacting out of a sense of powerlessness, I felt sorry for the character in your flash, that he was unable to play peaceably with the other children.I also thought your flash brilliant with how you infused your writing with bird and raptor traits. However, I think I feel much less empathy for the bully who grows up and continues to prey on others instead of addressing the role power and powerlessness plays in his or her life.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you for your comment and the interpretation of my flash, Charli. Yes, the poor little fellow in my flash has not really developed effective social skills and needs to be taught them. The way that children are responded to in situations such as this influences their future behaviour. Compassion and guidance help to develop empathy and positive attitudes to others, including an understanding of others’ feelings, an ability to walk in their shoes, if you like. Anger and punishment can reinforce the behaviour it’s intending to change. I agree with you about the bullies, but wonder to what horrors they were subjected to make them respond in such ways to others. You and I both would love to wave the magic wand that eradicates all discrimination and violence.

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      Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      That’s very true abut awareness. I’ll have to check out some of your books. I popped over to your blog and noticed that our taglines are very similar! It’s lovely to meet you. Thank you for commenting.

      Liked by 3 people

      Reply
  4. Sherri

    Bullying is awful, thank you for writing about it Norah, I know this is a subject you feel very strongly about. Your flash made me feel sad, knowing there are children who feel so powerless they know only how to react and act in anger and violence. I remember well your moving stories about Marni and the Matty B video. And as always, a great reading resource guide for anyone wanting to help young children with bullying. Thank you Norah for being you 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  5. Sacha Black

    bullying is always a topic close to my heart, I was bullied until I left school, I agree with what you said about bullies having been victims themselves. Luckily I never became a bully.I guess I’d been hurt too much and didnt want to do that to others. Lovely fiction as always Norah x

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      Thank you, Sacha. I’m sorry to hear you were bullied at school, but pleased to hear that you survived and didn’t go down that path. It seems there are others who repeat what they have been subjected too, and others who are determined to not follow that route. Congratulations for being one of those making a difference and breaking the cycle. There needs to be more of us!

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  6. julespaige

    I have been preyed upon…the one bullied. As an adult I have ended up leaving groups that seem to like to get together just to gossip. Words can be so much more hurtful than a punch in the arm.

    True friends will not make you do anything you are uncomfortable with. Most often children learn from the adults around them. I remember working in retail and seeing a 5 year old bully his mother. The threat being – ‘Don’t get me what I want and I’ll tell Dad.’ Unfortunately there are times when the observer can do nothing but (in the good sense) pray.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Norah Post author

      I’m so sorry to hear you were bullied, Jules. At least you had the ability, and the sense, to leave those negative groups. Sometimes children are unable to make those choices, so we need to advocate for them.
      It is true too, that children learn from those around them. The story of that 5-year-old bullying his mother makes me sad. You can almost see his family environment. I just want to reach out and help those people in order to avoid the development of another anti-social adult.
      Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 4 people

      Reply
  7. Sarah Brentyn

    Agree with everyone here. Another great take on the prompt. This one so important. I remember your other posts (and will take a peek at one I think I missed). I do love that so many are now writing and speaking about bullying. I hope we can make some big changes in this area. I really hope.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
  8. Deborah Lee

    I’m pleased to find another writer who champions the targets of bullying! I’ve not done nearly as much as you have, but I’ve written about it some and consider myself an advocate for victims. I focus on workplace bullying. Great post and great flash!

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
  9. karenwrites19

    Thanks Norah for mentioning me, my bully prevention books: Song Bird Superhero and Stop the Bully and my FREE resources. Very kind of you.
    I’m happy to answer any questions from your readers.
    Cheers,
    Karen Tyrrell 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply

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