Bullying is becoming a growing epidemic among our youth. It has become more newsworthy as the media relates tragic stories such as that of Jamey Rodemeyer, Megan Meier, and Phoebe Prince. All three teens were the target of bullying. As this epidemic becomes more prevalent in the media, parents are taking notice and trying to arm their children with the knowledge to discourage bullying.
There are many techniques that are being taught to children to discourage a bully from targeting them. Some of those techniques include:
• staying within a group
• staying away from children who seem to not like them or in general seem angry all the time
• on the bus, sit near the driver
• at recess, stay near the adults
• if walking to school or the bus stop stay near an older sibling
These are good techniques but once a child is in junior high or high school, it becomes increasingly more difficult to avoid the bully or to stay in the presence of a safe person, whether it is an older sibling or an adult. In those cases, the child needs to learn different techniques to deter a bully. Some of those techniques include:
• use the buddy system, walking to and from class with a friend and sitting in a group at lunch
• talk to a counselor or a teacher about the situation
• when leaving a classroom between classes look for teachers in the hallways so you know their locations and can get to them quickly
• on the bus, sit near the driver (most buses are now equipped with cameras)
• if walking to school or the bus stop, use the buddy system if possible
• do not use social media networks or limit your accounts so that only your friends can contact you or post to your page
Bullies are on the prowl for easy targets so that their own self-confidence is boosted. Bullies will likely back down from an intended target if that target exhibits self-confidence and confronts the situation instead of ignoring it or accepting it without taking action.
Parents need to teach their children how to be self-assured and have a confidence about them to deter bullies from targeting them. Teach the children how to use confident body language and set up scenarios to help them to be able to speak confidently and calmly to the bully. A bully is seeking a victim to help lift his/her self-confidence. Teach children to not be the victim.
Cyber-bullying is becoming more prevalent as well and children need to also learn how to deal with an assailant who comes right into their home via their computer. Parents need to closely monitor the child’s social media accounts and email accounts. The best protection against cyber-bullying is to not allow the child to have social media accounts but if the child is allowed access, then teach them appropriate cyber conduct. Once something is written and put out into cyber-space, it is there for all to see.
If a cyber-bully comes after the child show the child how to print out the offending content so it shows where it originated. These print-outs will be the stepping stone for proving that cyber-bullying is occurring. Authorities are beginning to crack down on this form of bullying. After the print-outs are in hand, have the child either block that person or completely disable the account. Tell the child to calmly respond to the cyber-bully that they do not want to be contacted again by that person and the authorities will be informed should the behavior continue. Encourage children to be open and willing to discuss what is going on within their lives and who their friends are currently and who might be a problem for the child either in the neighborhood or at school.
By teaching children to be pro-active in discouraging bullying, we are arming the children with the ability to be self-confident and well-adjusted throughout childhood, into adolescence and right into adulthood.