In 2012, social media erupted over the email sent to news anchor Jennifer Livingston about being overweight. The email’s sender contended that he was trying to bring to her attention that she was not a good role model for young girls in their community because she was overweight. Her on-air response to his email created quite a buzz.
Someone also bullied a young girl named Kaelynn. She tells of physical and sexual abuse and about the death of her mother. Suffering from PTSD, she began stuttering. Classmates called her meth-head, orphan, worthless, a mistake, faker, retard.
“I was hated for being myself and I began to hate myself,” she said. None of Kaelynn’s classmates had any idea what she had experienced. She attempted suicide in fifth grade. Fortunately, her attempt failed and today, she speaks out against bullies.
Bullying is nothing new, but it seems to exist at a whole new level.
Has our culture become a place where anything goes? The mean acts aren’t only happening with young people; adults participate as well. What became of human decency and treating each other with respect, even when we disagree?
Webster’s Dictionary defines a bully as someone who is quarrelsome and overbearing; one who habitually badgers and intimidates. But there are some other things you need to know about bullying, or at least consider.
Could your child be the bully? Is your child a victim? And, how would you know?
If you don’t talk with your children about bullying, now is a good time to start. Here are some questions to get things going.
- Is conflict different than bullying? All relationships have conflict. Just because someone doesn’t share your opinion about something or agree with your perspective does not mean they are a bully. Bullying is when a person treats you disrespectfully, is mean to you over and over again, or intentionally seeks to embarrass or harass you because you have a different viewpoint.
- What do you do if you see someone being bullied? Don’t assume that your child will automatically stand up for the victim. Talk with them about how they would handle this situation. The research shows that if just one person stands up for the person being bullied it can change the entire situation, BUT it is hard even for adults to step out and go against the crowd. If it doesn’t feel safe to say something, go get help.
- If someone bullies you, what will you do? Parents assume that their child will say something, but studies show that is not the case. Most bullying victims do not tell their parents because they are afraid the situation will worsen. Talk through the steps your child can take if they believe they are being bullied. Assure them that they can come to you for help in working through the situation.
A parent’s job is to pay attention. So, keep the lines of communication open by talking often and honestly about this topic. That way, your child is ready if something happens.