As school resumes – will the bullies come out in force? Probably!
First of all what is a bully by definition? “A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people.” What makes a bully? Children live what they learn.
Bullying has become a major factor in Atlanta Public Schools as well as others. There are 159 counties in Georgia; and it is presumed that not one of their school systems is without their share of bullies? Schools in the metro-Atlanta area often support bullying classes and seminars for teachers; but parents need to be informed and prepared as well.
Author, Devin Robinson, of the “Atlanta Post” has an article of interest regarding what happens in the school where there is bullying. http://atlantapost.com/2011/02/03/is-it-fair-to-punish-the-victims-of-bullies-in-our-schools/
A child that is being bullied cannot get the most good from their school experience. Sometimes it is just not enough to tell the child to “get over it,” just don’t pay attention to them – or worse tell them to fight back.
First of all – schools should be (and enforce), a “No bullying zone,” just as they post a drug free zone. There should be “zero” tolerance for bullying. But not all bullying takes place at school even though it might stem from school. Walking home and riding on the school bus can be places where bullies seek their prey. However, bullying can be neighborhood problem as well.
We have two students here that need the attention of the school, the parents, the church, and the medical community. And both need essentially the same teaching – both the “bully-er,” and the “bully-ee.”
The first one is the child who is doing the bullying. What makes a bully? There are no sure pat answers; but it is quite clear that they need help. Far too many parents respond with denial and/or anger when told that their child is a bully. Often they react negatively; and it is understood why their child acts the way they do. The apple does not fall far from the tree.
Parents are the most important factor in their child’s life; and if he/she is bullying other kids; there is a reason. These reasons may vary; but for an overall description – they are just plain angry. The mystery is to find out why they are angry; and who they are angry at. If this child can be reached at the first sign of bullying, then there is more hope that the child can become well adjusted; and will no longer feel the need to bully other kids. Even small toddlers that get away with biting and hitting are budding bullies.
Some other factors are jealousy, low self esteem; or they may also be victims of being bullied. Sometimes they may be struggling with inner feelings of inadequacies either mentally, physically, or economically. They seem to pick their victims who they think are the weakest; and they can exert power over easily. For some reason being a bully gives them power they do not otherwise have.
The second child involved in bullying is the child that is being called out. Often these children are shy, have problems with their own self esteem; and are not able to assert or defend themselves easily. Mostly… they are afraid.
Here again, this child needs the support of parents, teachers, other students, and the medical community. If a child is sure of themselves (and has a great sense of pride and accomplishment), they are less likely to be picked on by others. It is mostly the insecure that are called out. This could also hold true for the child who is doing the bullying. Bullying needs to be stopped before it becomes a grudge, hatred, and vengeance.
Many times bullying is only trash talk, insults, and mean spirited jokes; but often this can turn into physical violence and in some cases bullying has tormented a child to the point of them taking their own lives.
Some parents need to be concerned about another student harassing their child. Other parents should be even more concerned about their child who is doing the bullying. Both students are affected by harassment.
Parents can help steel their children against bullying by showing a strong support in the home for each of these.
Here are some tips that parents can do in the home.
- Make sure that no kind of bullying or harsh joking or teasing goes on in the home.
- Make sure that parents do not compare one child to another in the family or outside the family.
- Parents should understand that words hurt just as much as a slap on the face. Many times an act of physical abuse will not last as long as mental abuse.
- Parents should check their own words and attitudes. If they are continually making fun of other family members, co-workers, and/or neighbors – this sets the scene for the kids to follow.
- Parents should realize that it is harder for their child to be bullied – or affected by it – it they have a strong sense of who they are. This will help them brush off insults knowing that they are not true. Many kids are hurt by what others say because somewhere down deep they agree with what they are saying. A child who is told often enough how dumb they are – they soon believe it as well.
- Develop character in the child so that they will have confidence in themselves. How do parents and teachers develop a child’s resistance to ridicule and teasing? How do they help the child who harasses another?
Developing character and good self-esteem in children?
1. Look for the good things a child accomplishes. Catch them doing good things more often than catching them doing bad things. Compliment them on every progress they make when they put forth effort. Do not praise just for the sake of praising. True praise will mean little if you do.
2. As kids grow older, they shy away from being cuddled and babied; but they still need a kind human touch. Hug your child often for no reason at all; and tell them how much they are loved unconditionally.
3. Be attentive. Show interest in the child’s activities even if they are not your interests. Show an interest in their friends and pay close attention to the ones they choose. Many times they choose friends for the wrong reasons. And always listen to the child’s problems even if they seem trivial to you. They can be vastly important to the child. Help to lay aside unfounded fears; and help them to find ways to overcome others.
4. Don’t be so quick to punish mistakes; use them as a teaching moments. Discuss why it was a mistake. Were there established rules (known previously by the child) that were broken? Let them know what the rules are; and why it is important to obey them. Choose your battles. Don’t do battle just because, “I say so!” Direct disobedience and a mistake are not the same.
5. Discipline is important in the lives of all people. But discipline does not always mean punishment. Discipline comes from the word disciple – meaning to teach. When punishment is deemed necessary make sure it is not just withholding the cell phone or IPod all the time.
Choose a type of punishment that will reinforce that there are consequences for continually making mistakes. Give them a chore to do rather than just withholding an object. Have them do age appropriate chores – emptying the trash cans throughout the house for a week for the smaller ones – cutting grass for example in older teens.
6. Support you child by supporting their school and school activities. Go to the school often not just when they are in trouble. Don’t just meet the teacher on opening day; but get to know the teacher. Showing interest in your child will help the teacher to do so as well. Attend school programs, open houses, concerts, sports activities, and book fairs.
Don’t just send your child to a place you know little about. Become part of the school.
7. Encourage your child to have friends over to your house rather than letting them be away from your home too often. Always make sure adult supervision is in both homes. Encouraging your child to make good friends also gives them support at school.
8. As the child grows older, help them learn to make decisions on their own. Allow them as much decision making as possible; and age appropriate. Let them decide what they want to wear from their closet which has been already okayed by you. If they don’t wear a school uniform, many kids dress to get attention and will wear some pretty awful stuff if allowed. Be a wise parent in all things. The time to make decisions about clothing is at the store according to pre-set rules.
9. Show your child that you value them and that they are unique and special by spending time with them, by having family traditions, and by making memories that will last a ife time. NEVER strike a child in anger. NEVER hit a child in their face. There is nothing more degrading. Teach your child scripture that will enable them to have a standard to live by. Teach them to respect others by explaining the Golden Rule. Teach them they will need to live by the laws of God and man to succeed in life.
10. Lastly, make dates for nothing but fun times with your children. Watch a favorite TV show together each week, let them choose the dinner menu once a week and let them help prepare it – little ones can add the napkins and silverware to the table.
11. More importantly teach your children who they are in Christ. Teach them that they are individuals created in the image of God; that they are unique with special gifts and talents given them by their Creator to do good things and have a purpose in life. Have prayer and devotions in the home along with Bible reading. Proverbs – one a day keeps the devil away – and may just help prevent bullying. Attend your place of Worship…together.
Take them to a good Bible teaching church that will reinforce what you are teaching them in the home. Find a church that is child friendly; and one that does not over burden them with stringent man-made rules. And as in school, be active in their church experience.
Begin when they are small reading simple Bible stories from the Scripture that teaches principles; as well as character. Avoid the more adult views of the church (and the Bible), when they are young. Never allow them to become fearful of religion at church or at home. Never use the Bible as a fear tactic or threat.
12. If bullying becomes such that the child is afraid to go to school or if it is affecting their lives; and you have run out of options through the school, you will need to take further actiion. Take it to your county juvenile court. Even children must be taught that to break the law has consequences; especially in older students of middle and high school age.
Remember that children live what they learn. Check out this site for a list of what children learn and how they learn it. http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html
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Atlanta Faith and Family Examiner strives to offer a variety of articles on issues that are of utmost of importance to the family and their faith. If you would like to be included in the list of those who receive these articles as soon as they are published, you may subscribe at no cost. Will you please forward and share this to parents that have children returning to school this year? There is a share button at the top of this article that enables you to share to your social sites with ease. You may even e-mail them to family and friends by using the tools above.