Now that school is back in session, I always like to address the issue of bullying with both children and their parents. As parents, we know that our kids are going to have difficulties with peers at times, but sometimes, situations escalate and your child ends up being continually threatened. It is also a sad fact that this type of behavior can carry on throughout our entire life. As an adult, you may face bullying at work, with other children’s parents, and sometimes even within your own family.
Regardless of the nature and who it is with, we need to be aware of what constitutes bullying in order to stop it. Bullying is defined as the use of force or coercion to abuse or intimidate others—mentally and/or physically. This includes verbal harassment, deliberately humiliating someone, and/or causing bodily harm to another.
If you suspect that your child is being bullied, take action by encouraging her to avoid areas where bullies prey and also encourage her to find a supportive friend (there is safety in numbers) and finally, notify a trusted adult in your child’s life that he can turn to and possibly help end the bullying. If all else fails, notify law enforcement if the situation becomes life-threatening.
On the flip side, keep in mind that your child may be the one doing the bullying—or maybe even you—and you just never realized it. If you know that your child is teasing or harassing others, put a stop to it now. Encourage them to treat everyone equally by doing so yourself—they learn the majority of their behaviors by watching how you treat others.
Unfortunately, there will always be fighting and name-calling, but you don’t have to be a part of it. Choose to be a positive role model for generations to come by being the bigger person who always walks away from conflict.