There is an increasing trend that needs to stop. Bullying of children is contributing to isolationist behavior, cutting or self mutilation, and most tragically, suicide. Many schools have a zero tolerance policy against bullying, but that is not always working. Children are afraid to report bullies. What can we do as mothers and fathers to prevent bullying?
Not Just Bruises – Words Hurt
Children often do not realize that their words might hurt others. They think it is understood that they are just kidding, but their friend may not see it that way. This type of bullying, often explained away as teasing, can be the most damaging to children. Sometimes it is not even intentional. Children and adults alike are guilty of bullying in this way. Encourage all children and adults that work with children to think before they speak.
T – Is it True?
H – Is it Helpful?
I – Is it Inspiring?
N – Is it Necessary?
K – Is it Kind?
Children, and adults, can use this acronym to temper their words with love. Teach your children to think and ask themselves these questions before they speak, to determine if what they are about to say might be hurtful. Remind them of the old adage, “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And remind your children that being a “bystander“ is just as bad – teach them to speak out against bullying.
Something Is Not Right – Signs of Bullying
As parents, we know our children best. Consequently, we should notice any change in behavior that might indicate our child is being bullied. Check to see if your child comes home with missing or damaged clothing or belongings. Look for unexplained cuts or bruises. Take note if your child is fearful of going to school. If they are being bullied, they may have a sudden loss of appetite or suddenly complain of a stomach ache. These are just a few examples of signs. You will know if there is something wrong with your child. Just trust your gut instinct.
What Now? – Dealing With Your Child Being Bullied
Talk with your child. Foster a relationship with them that allows them to be open and honest about who and what is bothering them. Talk with the school staff to get their opinion on the situation. If nothing more, it will alert them to the possibility that something is wrong. If the bullying is happening in school and they can document it, then they will hopefully deal with it appropriately. Let your child know that you are supporting them and value them. They may also need counseling after being bullied.
With thoughtfulness and love there will be less bullying. I hope that we can make kindness and love as contagious as bullying has been. Hug your child and let them know you love them. Check out this article for Bullying Prevention Tips.
Has your child experienced bullying? How have you taught your children to be kind others?
Updated December 2013 by Kimberly
7 thoughts on “Silent Epidemic – Bullying”
Bullying occurs in your neighbourhood, the school, and even in our workplaces as adults. When one person feels more important or better or gets something out of that kind of relationship where they have the power to make another hurt they will do it.
As parents I completely agree – we have to educate our children about what bullying is and how it affects people. If we teach our children empathy and caring, they think twice about what they say. And even if they don’t – they know that their words or actions hurt and they have the skills to make the advance to repair the relationship. When we see our kids do something hurtful we have to help them understand what they’ve done – not just punish them. We want them to take ownership of their actions, not push them out of the sight of adults.
I always wonder why a child would do things like bully – and think it’s often a learned behaviour or a sign of another issue. Yes, they need to be faced with consequences, but they also need to grow and learn so they don’t repeat. Facing the consequences of their action, the people they have affected, can be a powerful tool for change.
I don’t think teachers are responsible. They need to be aware, to report what they see and then parents have to step up to the plate and deal. We can’t expect others to do our job – and it’s our job to discipline. Teachers and school administrators can hold zero tolerance policies up as the ideal, but conflict is natural and children will do things they shouldn’t. By giving the victim a caring and supportive environment and the bully a consequence also in a caring environment, we can show them that there is another way.
And when all else fails – bullying is about power. Take away the power – teaching our kids to stand together in the face of bullying, to support the victim and refuse to follow the bully, takes away that power. And often the reason for the action in the first place.
So let’s teach our children where to draw the line. they will all test out power and control, push too far sometimes, fight or say hurtful things. The trick is to teach them to fight for right, to stand up for good things, to learn to say I’m sorry and mean it, to nurture strong relationships and to reach out to those who need support. Make them aware and they’ll surprise us.
Jackie, thank you thank you for your input! You are right: Bullying is about POWER!! When this power is taken, everything will go smoothly!! We need to act and teach our children to refuse these actions!
I am sorry you were picked at school. It is not easy. I am always amazed by this epidemic. I think schools do their best to help but this is not always working. I think it should start by discussing with children at home and continue this at school.
Children got angrier in the last decades. It is caused by many reasons: video games, direct aggression from the movies etc. Bullying at the school should be the teachers fault. While our kids are at school, it is the teachers’ responsibility if there’s something happening. I know, the teachers hasn’t got enough right to discipline, that’s the reason why the children think that they can do almost everything.
I think the video games and all these aggressive games play a role in making the environnement tense and angrier. I think the teacher has a responsability to watch but I cannot put the blame on them. It is not a teacher’s role to educate children at first. Their role is to teach. Discipline should start at home and continue at school. Everybody should be involved in the children’s education: parents, teachers,