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Bullying – Not My Child!

The headlines recently have reported the tragic consequences of bullying. While this is not a new behavior, it is on the rise due to the sense of anonymity bullies have when using electronic devices to bully. Let’s clarify the definition of bullying. Any of these three main conditions are present in a bullying situation: poor, unfair match (either in age/size or numbers, eg 3 kids vs. one), and repetition. Examples of bullying include:

  • To physically harm someone
  • Theft or damage to another person’s belongings
  • Focus on someone
  • Teasing in a hurtful way
  • Using assumptions, such as insulting someone’s race, weight, intelligence, appearance, or making fun of someone because they are a boy or a girl
  • Touching or showing private body parts
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Posting rumors or lies
  • Posting rumors or lies on social networking sites
  • Banning someone on purpose or trying to get other kids to ban someone

Our schools spend a lot of time introducing bullying curriculum, taking situations seriously as they come to the attention of staff and the consequences of bullying. It is important that all adults have a similar message about bullying behaviour.

So what can you do as a parent? First, it’s important to understand that even good kids and teens are capable of bullying. It’s not a matter of saying “teenagers will be teenagers” when they do serious harm to another person. We have seen the consequences of bullying. Bullying is too harmful to the bully! A landmark study showed 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 some things you can do to reduce the chances of your teen becoming a bully:

  • Talk to your teens about empathy and be living examples of empathy. If your teen makes harsh comments, use it as a teaching moment.
  • Arrange for your teen to volunteer and do community service as a way to develop their empathic “muscles.” They can volunteer at: Food Banks, Animal Humane Association, Local Hospitals, read to 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’s still there, get a phone without a camera. (The camera is a whole other problem. Students are sexting which is considered a fourth degree felony and distributing child pornography). Follow their Facebook and My Space accounts.
  • Believe and support school staff if they say your teenager is being bullied and take some of the steps listed above.
  • Pay attention to your parenting style. “Child aggression has been linked to authoritarian discipline – an approach that attempts to control children through fear and the threat of harsh punishment (Espelage et al 2000). Bullies are more likely to have experienced child abuse or witnessed violence at home ( Bladry et al. 2003; Bauer et al 2006). Bullies are more likely to have parents who believe that aggression is an acceptable way of solving 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 links active, do not edit the article in any way, and credit the author.

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