Who is responsible for a child that is a bully?
Some would argue that the responsibility from protecting children from bullies rest solely at the feet of the educators and schools. After all, school is where children spend the bulk of their day, why shouldn’t the school teach them values as well? Okay, that sounded harsh, however, that is how some people truly feel. As adults, maybe it is harder for (some of) us to tap into our childhood and think about how being bullied made us feel. On the other hand, some of us may not be able to remember because we were so traumatized we blocked it out. Sarcasm about childhood memories aside, today’s bully is different. They are built smaller, quicker, and they never go away. Today’s bully doesn’t even have to seek out their victim in person, theirs thumbs do all the work for them.
Bullying for past generations was quite different, and maybe that is why it is so hard for some individuals to understand the depths of despair that some who are bullied fall into, which would result in them taking their lives. Bullying occurred for us, and when school was over so was the bulk of the bullying for that day. If you were like me, you would dread school the next day, try to make yourself invisible and start to feel your stomach churn while you waited to discover if your invisibility cloak worked. As I grew older, I learned to dread the phone ringing, as it would usually lead to a conversation about all your bullying of the day. However, when I turned on my Atari, or my Nintendo (you know the one where you blew on the cartridges) my bullying did not follow me.
Nowadays, bullying follows the kids home, and it seeps into every aspect of their lives. It follows them in text messages, and phone calls that they carry around in their pocket. Bullies no longer stand on the sidewalk in front of your house singing a creative limerick about you as they used too. Bullying now, never goes away, the words and taunts, pictures and memes are passed around online like trophies. Social media sites, make the spread of lies easier. Now, factor in all the kids who will jump in on the bandwagon because they feel invincible hiding behind their screen; now your child has hundreds and sometimes thousands of bullies (strangers even). If you think that your child not being online will protect them you are wrong! They will still be called out by name, with some HD quality cellphone pic of them taken during the day unbeknownst to your child. The taunts will continue and the next day your child has a whole new set of bullies regurgitating last nights social media session. Video games now are linked to the internet, and also serves as a new way to bully through gaming platforms.
What Are You Doing?
What are you doing as a parent to prevent bullying? Are you using the adage ‘that kids will be kids’? I sincerely hope not. If that is your stance then you are one of the parents that other parents want to be held accountable. You can feign ignorance all you want, if your child is a bully… you know it. If you are unable to put a stop to the behavior then seeking professional help is a really good idea. Bullies have a tendency to have a string of a million excuses of why so and so deserves to be bullied, and as a parent you want to believe your child (even when the voice inside says they are lying). This behavior will not go away, where do you think adult bullies came from?
Your child’s school has hundreds, in some cases thousands, of students to police on a daily basis. In your home you have just your children. Now, who do you think has the better percentage for success of stopping a bully? You need to work with the school not against it to take a zero tolerance policy on bullying. Some communities are pushing for police to take action against ‘bully parents’ (parents of bullies), such as one in Wisconsin, that has adopted the policy to ticket parents of chronic bullies. Maybe the incentive of knowing that you could be held responsible would peak your interest in taking a more active role in your child’s behavior.
Moment of Reflection
If the possibility of getting sued or a hefty fine attached to a ticket doesn’t do it for you, well you could try the following. Think back, and remember what it was like to be kid being bullied, and if you were lucky enough to slide through unscathed, you surely witnessed it, or know someone who experienced it. Think about it even in the simplest of bullying tactics, being teased for weight, glasses, or braces, not being able to afford the latest fashion trend. Now take that memory and magnify it, its all over the internet, but with your picture, and some nasty comparison ones, some chose words scrawled across the bottom.
Thousands of people are passing it around with a share button, every kid in the school is seeing it and laughing, while some are taking a sigh of relief it wasn’t them. Maybe, just maybe your were that kid, the one who sighed with relief that it wasn’t you… think about how good that sigh made you feel after your stomach was in knots. Some gets never get that sigh, just the knots.
I, for one, have no idea what I would have done with technology and my bully. Guess what, neither does a kid today being bullied.