BULLY! It seems that everyone is crying this word. “He’s bullying me. She’s a bully. You’re a bully.” It gets the attention of parents, teachers and the media, but it can eventually have an almost useless meaning because while everyone is pointing the finger, no one is looking at him or herself.
We are always going to have mean people in the world. So, instead of only pointing the finger at the troublemaker, we need to also take a look at his/her victims and the bystanders that can have a big impact on this negative social behavior. Rather than getting the bully to stop, we also need to get others to act differently.
First, we do need to teach empathy to bullies. We need to help them see what their behavior does to others. They need to realize that if they didn’t want to be hurt then they shouldn’t hurt others. This is a simple task that may or may not reach some since the motivation for their behavior could come from places besides a lack of empathy, but this is a good place to start.
Second, the bystanders need to be taught to act differently. They may be taking part in the bullying or they may be allowing it to happy by their inaction. Teach your children ways to reach out to those who are picked on. The targets of bullies need friends too and this is often why they are targets. They can be a friend, tell a teacher and they can tell you. When the lines of communication are open, your child will hopefully come to you about this. If they see a child who is repeatedly attacked, tell them to do what they can to stop it and that this means telling an adult
Third, the victim must act as well. Sometimes ignoring the bully diffuses his or her actions, but this isn’t always the case. So, telling an adult or simply avoiding the person when possible are good places to start.
When bullying happens on the internet, a rather ingenious idea is to keep your child away from social media. They don’t need it to survive so why put them in a place that causes them anxiety? Kids and teens are not all capable of managing the sea of anonymity and danger that comes with the internet. We were once afraid of the adult stranger behind the screen, but now our kids are attacked by their own peers. The internet is another method for them to do this so keep yours away from it if it’s causing problems.
The victim must also not fan the flames of bullying. If someone is being rude to them, if they are rude back, things won’t get better. The bully could actually escalate the situation in order to assert dominance. So, teach your child to appropriately handle bullies by telling someone or just ignoring them.