Over 13 million American kids will be bullied this year. Bullying is a crisis that transcends geographic, racial, ethnic and economic borders. We need to understand it so we can change it. Not only do we need to give our kids confidence and teach them what to do if they are being bullied, we also need to know how to make sure our children are not the bullies. We all worry that our children will be the victims of a bully.
However, none of us want to believe that we could possibly be raising a bully. We want our kids to be kind to others. Yet with more than 13 million kids in this country getting bullied this year, there have to be an ample number of bullies as well. Those bullies have to be coming from somewhere, right?
Bullying is a form of deflection, moving the attention from the bully’s own insecurities. They need to fulfill a yearning for control through verbal or physical abuse. We naturally assume that kids who bully are having issues at home, perhaps a sick or nonexistent parent. Maybe they are even suffering from mental or physical abuse themselves. However, there are also many otherwise happy, well-adjusted children who simply believe that being a bully will increase their social status.Experts say that the best way to avoid having our children become bullies is to lead by example. We need to watch what we say about other people in the presence of your child, especially if we think we may be raising a bully. Think about our actions, such as anger, impatience, taunting or even tailgating. If our children see tolerance and empathy from us, they are more likely to act in the same manner towards others.
The experts also suggest that we continue to have an open dialogue with our child, talking to them about bullying and getting to know their child’s friends. Teaching our children empathy is important because they will be less likely to hurt others if they are considering first how the other person might feel as a result of their actions. For children with strong personalities, focusing on positive ways to be a leader may just be the key to having them take action in a helpful rather than hurtful manner. Redirecting their energy into something positive, such as involvement in a sport of other activities can help a child to acquire friendship and teamwork skills as well as build self-esteem.
On Monday, April 9th I will be attending a screening of the new movie BULLY and a discussion of the movie with panelists including Philadelphia Councilman James Kenney, and local newscasters such as Fox 29’s Mike Jerrick, Q102’s Nicole Michalik, WPHT 1210AM’s Dom Giordano, and more.
BULLY is a realistic and intimate look at how bullying has touched five kids and their families. It was filmed over the 2009/2010 school year and each of the five stories represents a different facet of America’s bullying crisis. It documents how bullying is handled at school, showing the responses of school officials to aggressive behaviors.
Once-bullied teen Katy Butler made headlines when she collected over 200,000 signatures in just 10 days and delivered it to the MPAA headquarters urging the board to change the rating of BULLY from “R” to “PG-13”, so all kids can have access to the film in its true form. BULLY is now unrated.
How do you approach the topic of bullying with your children?
Sources: Time.com and LiveScience.com