No Bully Zone
Bullies are lonely individuals who seek attention and do not know how to control their anger. You see bullying every day in school, in public, and at home. How do you reduce the problem?
Bullying starts at home. Parents or older siblings, intending to get their point across, “impose” their view with bullying tactics. A parent may have been abused as a child or may have been hit as a child and this behavior, which we as humans learn by example, becomes their observed method of controlling a situation. They try the technique on their oldest child, perceive the approach to work, and continue with that as being their style of child rearing. Unfortunately, the older siblings, either through observation or out of anger, develop this taste for communicating with their younger siblings using the same techniques. Parents, not realizing the stage they have set, overlook the elder child’s attitude and this leads to household acceptance (through denial) of its existence.
How to reduce this problem in the home? As a younger sibling in an abusive situation, start by talking with your older brother or sisters about how painful it is for you emotionally. Also, people are deaf to their own problems which means they won’t listen to someone else’s criticism. The solution is to ask them a question like “I need help with someone at school. What would you do if someone picked on one of your friends?” Listen to their answer and simply nod at their response. You don’t have to be truly interested in their response, just act like you are. What will happen? By their answering the question, you are planting the seeds that the behavior is not received well by others.
Next, ask your parents a similar question, but in the context of what they can relate to. For example, ask them a question like “Mom, I’m curious. What was it like growing up with Uncle John? Did he ever pick on you? If so, how did it feel?” You are accomplishing two things by these questions. First, if you are lucky, they relive the emotion and this makes it a topic they can relate to. Second, the pain aspect of their feelings will hopefully remind them of a time when they weren’t picked on or bullied as a child. In the end, getting through to your parents is the key to resolving bullying in the household.
How can a young student help to reduce the occurrence of bullying on school grounds? First, start by reporting the situation to school officials via an anonymous email. Outline in the email the individual(s) performing the offense, the time and date of the situation you observed, and copy the local police department on the email. It’s amazing the number of offenses that go without response when only a teacher is provided information, however, the response rate by school personnel goes up 3X fold when the police department or a school board member is copied on an email. Additionally, if a specific teacher has been ignoring their civic responsibility by failing to report a variety of known incidents to school officials (or the police) the individual can be held accountable for negligence. Transparency is the solution to school bullying. Teachers unwilling to take action to provide a safe environment for children should be arrested or, at a minimum, should find a new career not focused on child development. Cowardice supports bullying.
Finally, we need to address bullying in a public environment to highlight the behavior is not an acceptable one in our society. Too many individuals turn a deaf ear to the screams of their neighbor or a blind eye to acts of public bullying. This is pitiful and a sign of how political correctness is weakening the fabric that ties us together as a community.
How can a single individual have an impact?
Recently, I was at an Olive Garden restaurant with my family waiting to be served in the entranceway. Sitting on the benches provided the “15 minute” wait seem to take forever. On the bench next to us was an elderly lady and what I assume to be her grandchild. Across the hallway on an opposing bench was a woman, her husband, and next to them two children – one a 6 year old boy, another a 3 year old girl. The boy was dressed in jeans, a t-shirt, and sneakers. The girl was dressed in a skirt, dancing shoes and a purple blouse.
As most kids do, they were bored during the wait and tried to entertain themselves. At one point, the boy pushed the little girl a bit with his shoulder. She sat up and said “stop it”. He then proceeded to slug his sister with his elbow and she fell on the floor crying. The father sat there looking at the ceiling, the mother clicked away on her cell phone texting. A moment later, the little girl wiped her tears and sat back on the bench. The boy, not satisfied with his first attempt, punched her in the shoulder and she started crying out loud this time. Both parents, in a room of 30 people waiting for a nice dinner out, did nothing!
I had seen enough. Politically correct or not, I shouted out “Hey! Your son just slugged your little lady.” My wife whispered to me, “Honey, they are not your kids”. Not one to worry about my appearance, I said out loud in a less than subtle voice “If he hits a lady now, he’ll do it later in life”.
The room was hushed and did not seem to support, nor object to my public comment. The mother then glanced up and said, “Oh my god, I wasn’t aware he did that, I’m sorry”. The father, a pitiful being of ignorance, said nothing, did nothing, and just stared at the ceiling as though he couldn’t care less about anything but satisfying his personal hunger. The petit elderly lady of 70+ years old sitting next to me, reached over to me, touched my shoulder and said in a gentle voice, “Sir, thank you”.
My point is that we, as parents, have an obligation to all children to illustrate we care. The boy’s actions, in my perspective, were a direct reflection on his parent’s lack of focus on their children. What bothers me most about that evening was there were more than 14 other adults in the room, all observed the event, but none stood up to bring transparency to the situation and illustrate to their own children that bullying is not acceptable.
Screw political correctness, your child’s education on the topic of bullying starts with their direct observation of what you do in such a situation.
If you have a question about bullying, ask it on WebAnswers.