Bullying – Not My Child!

The headlines have recently reported the tragic consequences of bullying. While this is not new behavior, it is increasing due to the feeling of anonymity that bullies have when they use electronic devices to bully. Let’s get clear on a definition of bullying. Any one of these three main conditions are present in a bullying situation: harm, unfair match (either in age/size or in numbers i.e. 3 kids against one) and repetition. Examples of bullying including:

  • Hurting someone physically
  • Stealing or damaging another person’s things
  • Ganging up on someone
  • Teasing in a hurtful way
  • Using put-downs, such as insulting of someone’s race, weight, intelligence, appearance or making fun of someone for being a boy or a girl
  • Touching or showing private body parts
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Texting rumors or lies
  • Publishing rumors or lies on social networking websites
  • Excluding someone on purpose or trying to get other kids to exclude someone

Our schools spend quite a bit of time presenting bully proofing curriculum, seriously addressing situations as they come to the attention of staff and consequences for bullying. It’s important that all the adults have a similar message about bullying behavior.

So what can you do as a parent? First, it’s important to understand that even good children and teens are capable of bullying. It isn’t a matter of saying “teens will be teens” when they are doing serious harm to another person. We have seen the consequences of bullying. Bullying is also detrimental to the bully! A landmark study demonstrated that 60% of boys who were bullies in grades 6 through 9 were convicted of at least one crime as adults and nearly 40% of them had three or more convictions by age 24!

Here are a few things you can do to reduce the odds of your teen becoming a bully:

  • Talk with your teens about empathy and be living examples of empathetic behavior. If your teen says cruel remarks, use it as a teaching moment.
  • Arrange for your teen to volunteer and do community service as a way to develop their empathetic “muscles.” They can volunteer at: Food Banks, Animal Humane Association, Local Hospitals, read to the residents in Nursing Homes or Assisted Living, Special Olympics etc.
  • If you give your teen a cell phone do NOT enable text messaging and if it still exists get a phone without a camera. (The camera is a whole other problem. Students are sexting which is considered a fourth degree felony and distribution of child pornography). Monitor their Facebook and My Space accounts.
  • Believe and support school staff if they say your teen is bullying and take some of the steps mentioned above.
  • Pay attention to your parenting style. “Child aggression has been linked to authoritarian discipline – an approach that attempts to control kids through fear and threat of harsh punishment (Espelage et al 2000). Bullies are more likely to have experienced child abuse or witnessed violence in the home (Bladry et al 2003; Bauer et al 2006). Bullies are more likely to have parents who believe aggression is an acceptable way to solve problems”.

Copyright 2010, Iris Fanning, [http://www.irisfanning.com]. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way and give author name credit.