Well, first, we need to learn the facts about bullying. Would it surprise you to know that nearly 160,000 kids miss school each and every day for fear of bullying? Or that every seven minutes a child is bullied on the playground? Or how about the shocking fact that children who bully by age eight are four times more likely to have a criminal record by age thirty? These statistics are worrisome of course, and as parents we hope our children are not being bullied, but do we ever stop to think about our own children being “the bully?” It is a hard question to answer honestly, but children who bully other children have to belong to someone. Are you possibly that someone? Could you be unintentionally raising a bully?
How could I possibly be raising a bully? By my example maybe? Our children learn far more by watching us than by listening to us, so it stands to reason that the best way to combat bullying with our children is by not acting like bullies ourselves. We can start by being an example in our day to day interactions with others. We can respond, rather than react, not just to our children, but also to other people. We can use reason and compassion when dealing with a driver who has cut us off, a coworker’s unreasonable behavior, a spouse’s bad mood, or a neighbor’s invasive actions. Showing our littles by example how to handle uncomfortable or inconvenient situations with peaceful hearts would go a long way toward putting a stop to bullying before it starts.
To that same end, if we want to help stop bullying in the world at large, we need to stop bullying our own children by threatening, manipulating, hitting, ridiculing, or belittling them. We need to treat our children with the same compassion and empathy we hope they will use with others.
What if we took it one step further and gained a new perspective on violence as entertainment and stopped allowing our littles to view it as such? Violent movies, video games and violent sports desensitize our children to other acts of violence. When violence is the “norm” and “fun” where do we have to go from there? Certainly not toward peace or empathy or compassion.
What if we foster a sense of community with those beyond our inner-most circle? What if we explore different cultures, languages, lifestyles, music, traditions, and beliefs and treat people equally regardless of socioeconomic status, gender, race, age or any of the other ways we view them as “different?” We could make a better path for the next generation and with that, generations to come.
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!