Hello! and welcome to the first column of “Bullying, what’s a parent to do?” Each week, we’ll discuss topics revolving around bullying, its causes, its effects and, most importantly, how to put a stop to it.
I started working with the community on this issue because I had so many parents coming to me - both through my life coaching and my martial arts school - completely lost and usually in tears because their child was being bullied and they didn’t know what to do. “I’ve talked with the school and my child is still being bullied” and “I don’t know what else to do” have been common themes.
I want this column to be as helpful to all of you as possible, so I'd like to focus on actual problems you are having around this issue. Trust me, other parents will learn a lot from your specific situations, so jump in and email me. I’ll of course keep names and specific details confidential. Who’s first?
I take a fairly different approach from most on the subject of bullying. If you search bullying on the Internet there are tons of sites devoted to it - defining it, explaining it and giving options to handle it. As I read through these sites, I am shocked at how convoluted and complicated some of the definitions are for bullying.
Let’s cut to the chase - bullying is assault, its abuse, its defamation and its slander. Too harsh? Not at all. Children are dying because of bullying and if an adult were to do to another adult what a bully does to your children - they’d find themselves in jail. We need to stop tiptoeing around the issue and call it for what it is - and handle it for what it is.
Bullying is usually broken down into four types: physical, verbal, emotional (which includes social exclusion), and cyber. Cyber-bullying is currently a big topic as parents, administrations and the law are playing "catch up" to try and deal with what goes on on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, etc. In future columns, I’ll give tactics to handle all of these scenarios as well as others.
This week - let me start by giving you a list of signs to look for that might indicate that your child is being bullied:
- Is frequently teased, taunted, belittled, ridiculed, intimidated, threatened, dominated or subdued (at home or at school).
- Has a derogatory nickname.
- Regularly has bruises or injuries that can’t be explained.
- Has belongings taken or damaged.
- Has few or no close friends at school.
- Is withdrawn, moody, excessively angry or sad.
- Has recent changes in attitudes, eating habits, personal hygiene habits, etc.
Now, having one of these occasionally is no cause for alarm - but more than one, over a long period of time could be a warning sign. Be aware of your children - and don’t be one of those parents that says, “Oh, that’s just the way they are.” The items listed above indicate an unhealthy lifestyle. If they describe your child, it’s time to do something about it.
Let’s work together to put a stop to bullying in our community. It can be done. We just have to be assertive and not accept the status quo.
So, let’s get started. Who wants to be the first to send in an email?