Bullying is one of the most stressful things a child may have to deal with. Both verbal and physical abuse can leave lasting wounds on the psyche, potentially leaving deep-seated issues that will affect them for years to come.
As bullying has now been linked to several teen deaths, so what can students do to discourage bullying?
Some would have children report the incidents and allow administrators to handle the issue. However, if every child reports every incident that could be construed as bullying, then how much time will school administrators have to properly address their concerns? Researching bullying could be a full time job and still never get through every investigation in a timely manner.
And if a truly harassed student is having to wait, their situation is only going to get worse. Phoebe Prince and Jamey Rodemeyer have shown, waiting might be fatal.
Instead of waiting on administrators and adults to fix the situation, children should take efforts to prevent bullying themselves, and end the problem before it gets out of hand.
One of the easiest ways for students of any age to prevent bullying is to rely on an old adage: sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. No matter the vileness of the slur aimed at a child, it only has as much power as the child gives it. If the target of the bullying lets the words roll off them, the bully will lose their weapon, and will move on. Responding to derogatory insults only fuels the attacks, lets the bully know they have a victim.
Eleanor Roosevelt knew this: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” It takes two to perpetuate a bully cycle, and simply ignoring the aggressor can end much of the assault.
Racial slurs, sexual orientation slurs, religious slurs, economic slurs, whatever kind of insult can be come up has nothing to it on its own. They are words, with no more sting than mailbox or tuna fish. Parents, administrators, lawyers, and ACLU advocates should all encourage their children to ignore verbal assaults. Teach every child to respond to an insult with, “And?” Immediately disarm the bully by not caring.
Physical bullying is a different matter entirely. Parents should certainly be involved with their children, especially in any situation that is potentially violent situation. School administrators don’t need to treat physical altercations as anything other than fighting, so don’t need any extra rules or restrictions.
Even though students shouldn’t fight, they can even prevent physical bullying by sticking up for each other. If more kids confront wrong-doers, the bully will be singled out, and will no longer take strength from not being stopped. If everyone admonishes a bully for their behavior, they will be curbed by peer pressure.
Bullying is bad, but even children can nip it in the bud.