Bullies: A Parent's Role
Times Have Changed….
The number one responsibility of any parent is to look out for their child’s welfare.
One factor a parent has no control over is how his/her child’s peers accepts them socially. Many parents and adults in general are just out of touch. They've forgotten what it was like to be a kid wanting to be accepted by their peers. They've forgotten kids don't have an "edit button" in their minds or for behaviors. They'll say rude things without thinking about consequences.
There are also several instances of sexual harassment along with the school equivalent of domestic violence in teen relationships. Many of the girls who are felt up, slapped, or threatened by boys their own age don't bother reporting it.
Sadly it becomes a preview of things to come in their adult lives.
Living in Dual Worlds…
With the advent of social network sites, YouTube, MySpace, Facebook, and text messaging bullies have more ways to terrorize kids then ever before 24/7! The days of bullies simply taking other kids lunch money or forcing them into a locker are long gone! A private embarrassing moment can go viral on the Internet in minutes!
When a child gets to the point where he or she believes adults don't care about them they feel alone. This can lead to depression and acts of desperation. Many adults don't take bullying seriously until a child snaps and kills other kids that have been torturing him or he takes his/her own life.
Many adults, teachers, and parents look at being bullied as "a part of growing up" and learning how to deal with problems. Some simply tell the child who is being bullied to "stand up for themselves". These parents are stuck in a time warp believing if their child hits a bully hard enough he will scurry away and never bother them again. WRONG! They don't take into account that bullies today often have access to guns and knives.
Bullying is no longer “child’s play”.
The Make Up Of A Bully….
Bullies generally have a low self-esteem.
The bully often gets bullied at home or is following in the footsteps of his/her parents or siblings. They look to cause fear and gain respect from the weak or those not likely to put up a fight. Nothing says you're more powerful than having other kids fear/respect you as much or more than they do adults.
Bullies tend to pair up or form gangs while kids who are attacked fly solo or hang out with other kids who lack the temperament to fight back.
There’s intimidation in numbers.
A Child’s Options….
The kids who are not welcomed into "the in crowd" basically have 3 options.
1. Hang out with other kids (in their same league)
2. Live a solitary life with no friends.
3. Become a bully. This would entail doing bad things/getting into trouble in order to be accepted by the other bullies. It’s the “If you can’t beat them, join them” mentality.
There are some kids that do get raised to hero status after beating up or defending himself or herself from a bully. Now he/she is the new "king of the hill". It's very easy for them to get swallowed up into a power trip after that.
Stop Living in Dual Worlds…
Many parents are too busy living their own lives that they don't take the time to empathize or listen to how fearful the child is. Whether the parent says it or not the child feels pressured to handle things in his/her own world without involving their parents.
A lot of kids learn to live in fear, find alternative ways home, run, skip school, or fake illnesses. They become withdrawn or anti-social. It’s common for parents to view this behavior as nothing more than “a teenage phase”. Most kids who are bullied never tell their parents.
Essentially it becomes the parent/child version of “Don’t ask, don’t tell.” The worlds of the child and the parent never intersect.
What Parents Can Do….
All parents should make it a priority to have daily communication their children in a non-judgmental way. The kids have to know they can talk to you about anything without you automatically getting upset.
Too many parents are not aware of issues until after there are obvious signs.
Once the seeds of fear and anxiety are firmly planted in a child’s mind it becomes difficult for them to keep things in perspective. Some of these kids see suicide as a viable solution much like the one mentioned in the following Washington Times link.
We should strive to remove the words "Tattletale" and "Snitch" from our vocabularies. Words like these put pressure on a child to keep his/her pain to themselves rather than reporting it. Telling a kid to "work it out on your own" or simply saying, "fight back" is not always the answer. Parents have to assume the responsibility for their child's welfare.
Since we have no control over other kids or what goes on in their household a parent must make sure they have a close and tight bond with their children.
School authorities need to be apprised of what is going on.
The reason kids are bullied at school is because there is no united front of parents, teachers, and coaches who have adopted a 0 tolerance policy.
Get involved with your local PTA and try to apply political pressure if need be to get your school to take action up to and including expelling the bully in extreme cases.
If school authorities aren’t cooperating arrange to have your child transferred to another school and take legal action if for no other reason than to raise public awareness.
A parent must be willing to walk through fire to protect their child.
For those parents who have children that are bullies probably the best thing you can do when they are young is show them where most bullies end up. (In prison or in the grave).
Strive to get your child involved in after school programs that demand discipline.
Show them “the promise of tomorrow” today by pointing out things they can accomplish by following the rules, working hard, and pursuing their dreams.
If nothing else take a drive through upscale neighborhoods and provide them with books that contain stories about others who overcame childhood issues to lead successful productive lives. Make every effort possible to help shape your child’s outlook on life.
They don’t call them “the formative years” for nothing!
One man’s opinion!