Tuesday, November 6, 2007

It it looks like a bully, acts like a bully and sounds like a bully-its a bully!

I was recently involved-peripherally-in a conversation about bullying. The conversation started when a parent asked if a particular incident-related to her kindergarten age daughter- was bullying, a big deal and if it should be brought up with the teachers.

Several things come to mind when reflecting on bits and pieces of the conversation:

1. Bullying is all about POWER-the power hurt-either by words or actions
another person.
2. No one should ever have to put up with bullying of any kind-EVER.
3. Bullying behavior has to be stopped IMMEDIATELY.
4. Never hesitate to bring in your child’s school and/or teachers.
5. Bullying behavior HAS to be addressed when kids are young-by the
Time they get to third grade, much of the bullying behavior is already
6. If you want you child to “tell” on someone who is a bully, is being bullied or if your child is the victim-you need to model that behavior and TELL someone in a position to help you sort it out.

The other thing that jumped out was the parents’ concern that they would be making an ‘issue’ out of nothing and that maybe the incidents weren’t serious enough. Of course, we all should look before we leap to conclusions, but generally if it looks, sounds, and smells like bullying it probably is-and it won’t go away by itself. Noone, ever, should have to be bullied-and even if it seems "minor" to you it has to be stopped.

As a parent there is plenty you can do to help your kids:

Make sure they are exposed to as many different cultures, races, traditions etc as you can manage. If your social group or community is homogeneous, then you will have to make an extra effort-but books, games and crafts do the trick-especially for young kids. You can also debunk stereotypes in the media with your child. The other day, a commercial for a remote-control helicopter flashed on the TV screen. The only kids playing with it were boys. Of course, many girls would also like that toy, but by only using boys the advertiser reinforces the notion that girls wouldn’t like ‘boy’ toys. When you see things like that-point them out to your child. We know that there are plenty of opportunities to evaluate the media.

Start early-the bullies do. In fact, the earlier that kids learn to appreciate and accept others for who they are, the less likely they will exhibit bullying behavior-as a bully, a victim or a witness. Unfortunately, it is difficult to believe or understand that bullying starts when kids are young-around kindergarten.

Do something. Say something. Teach your children to stand up for themselves and for others. Remind them that ‘telling’ isn’t tattling. You need to make it ok for kids to tell you what’s up. Then you need to take action.

Most importantly, don’t second guess your instincts and remember that prevention is a whole lot easier than dealing with a full-blown problem.

With Respect-and hope for a bully-free future,

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