Bullying and what to do about it
A healthy mind doesn’t speak ill of others. Children and adults should live free from bullying and it’s time we all took a stand against it. As Ralph Maccio said, “Bullying happens at all ages and at all levels.”
Bullying hurts everyone
Every week, Sean Collard and I chat about family-related topics. This week is was around bullying and what a response from our listeners.
One mother shared this tragic story with us. She wrote that they bullied her son in Grade 6. He was very young and then committed suicide over 20 years ago. What a hard message to read.
But, did you know that 1 out of 4 kids is bullied? And that 58% have not told their parents or an adult about something mean or hurtful that happened to them online.
My heart is aching over the pain our children and adults are feeling around bullying. We’ve all experienced it or seen it happen around us. But, we cannot turn a blind eye.
Moms and Dads, get educated. Learn about it so that you can have meaningful conversations with your children. It’s worth the extra effort.
Forms of bullying
Did you know that bullying can take several forms? They include physical bullying such as hitting, punching, kicking or beating. Your child could be subject to verbal teasing, name-calling, or threats or even emotional bullying such as intimidation by others using gestures, social exclusion, or threats. Sexual or racist bullying happens as well as cyberbullying in the form of online harassment, hate messages, threats, impersonation, and other digital abuse.
But what can you do?
Firstly, be involved in your children’s world. Know what is going on and pay attention. Read up on this topic.
I read a great article on different types of bullies parents should watch for. Sherri Gordon wrote, “Not all bullies are the same. Each has a different style and uses different tactics to intimidate and control their victims. For instance, some kids that bully are very sly about how they attack their target, while others are downright mean. By being aware of not only the types of bullying but also the types of bullies your child may encounter, you will be better equipped to help your child in any situation.”
Some of the warning signs include:
- Your child comes home with torn, damaged, or missing pieces of clothing, books, or other belongings
- They have unexplained cuts, bruises, and scratches
- Are starting to take drugs or drink alcohol
- They seem to be afraid of going to school, taking part in extra-mural activities, or doing things with their peers.
- Finds or makes up excuses as to why they can’t go to school
- Has lost interest in schoolwork or suddenly begins to do poorly in school
- Appears sad, moody, teary, or depressed when he or she comes home
- Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches or other physical ailments
- Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams.
- Experiences a loss of appetite
- Appears anxious and suffers from low self-esteem
- Their self-confidence takes a dive.
What to do if you suspect your child is a victim of bullying
The above signs are signs of bullying but could also be indicators of other abuse. If your child displays any of these signs talk with them and talk with the school staff to learn more about what’s going on. Don’t remain silent. It takes courage to confront the pain we see not only in ourselves but in others as well.
From parenting experience, sometimes it helps to take a roundabout approach. When talking with your son or daughter, don’t ask straight out immediately if they are being bullied. Try these few approaches to get the conversation going and uncover what’s really going on.
Suggested conversation starters
“I’ve heard a lot about bullying in the news lately. Is that going on at your school?”
“I’m worried about you. Are there any kids at school who may be picking on you or bullying you?”
“Are there any kids at school who tease you in a mean way?”
“Do you have any special friends at school this year? Who are they? Who do you hang out with?”
“Who do you sit with at breaktime? What do you do during breaktime?”
“Are there any kids at school who you really don’t like? Why don’t you like them?”
This is merely a start to open up the conversation. Focus on the Family also have great resources. In one article, the author wrote, “You’re beginning to hear a theme: talk about it with your kids. Whatever the “it” is, talking about it occasionally, frequently, in-depth, or in passing keeps you connected to your children, so find the time and the best way to do so.”
Don’t you think it’s time we choose kindness and stop bullying?
I gathered a few quotes about anti-bullying that can be used as conversation starters in your home. I hope that they will encourage you to take a stand for yourself and help your children do the same.
Here are some for you to think about.
“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson
“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse, and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.”
“No one heals himself by wounding another.”
“Bystanders who do nothing give bullies permission inadvertently to go one being bullies. Most are afraid they’ll lose friends or be bullied themselves if they help victims or report bullies, and some feel guilty for years afterward.”
“People say sticks and stones may break your bones, but names can never hurt you, but that’s not true. Words can hurt. They hurt me. Things were said to me that I still haven’t forgotten.” –Demi Lovato
“I got made fun of constantly in high school. That’s what built my character. That’s what makes you who you are. When you get made fun of, when people point out your weakness, that’s just another opportunity for you to rise above.” – Zac Efron
“People who repeatedly attack your confidence and self-esteem are quite aware of your potential, even if you are not.” – Wayne Gerard Trotman
“Bullies don’t like to fight, son. They like to win. Being afraid is normal. The only fight you really have to win is the one against the fear.” – Kwame Alexander
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.” Luke 6:27-28
If you have a story to share, I’d love to hear it. Please email me or comment on this blog post.
And let’s get the message out there that bullying has to be exposed and stopped, whether it is a child or adult that is facing this challenge. Let’s end bullying around us.