With several recent tragedies occurring across the country due to bullying, the concept of getting bullied and being a bully are on people’s minds.
Phoebe Prince committed suicide after being bullied by 6 people who now face jail time if convicted. Tyler Clementi jumped off the George Washington Bridge after allegedly being secretly videoed by his roommate. These are just two examples that got national attention.
Bullies who aren’t stopped believe their behavior is acceptable so we need to arm our children with the ways to stop a bully to keep all of us safe. Bullies can turn into abusive spouses and parents. Those who are bullied can turn on their bully and cause violence. Stopping the cycle is very important for society in general.
Here are 10 things to discuss with your children about bullying to help break the cycle that is perpetuated in a bully who is not held accountable.
These tips are from Dr. Kathryn Seifert, forensic psychologist and author of “How Children Become Violent – Keeping Your Kids Out of Gangs, Terrorist Organizations and Cults” (Acanthus Publishing, 2006, ISBN 978-1933631486)
- Many times, the child being bullied is too afraid or embarrassed to get help. Teach your children they should be the ones to tell a teacher or parent – don’t be a bystander and let it happen. Bystanders assume someone else will take care of it.
- Teach your children how our differences make us better and that just because someone is different from us, it doesn’t make them bad. Seifert recommends the “Character Counts” programs for schools.
- Make it ok to talk about it, especially in peer groups where sharing may come easier. Talk with your child so they learn the skills of discussing difficult topics. It’s not easy and by you modeling the behavior, they’ll learn. Seifert recommends a program called “Operation Respect.”
- Teach your child that bullying is not normal. Many bullies come from violent homes where it is the norm and so they think it is normal behavior. Seifert suggests the Olweus Bullying program for schools to help them take charge of bullying situations.
- Remind your children bullies grow up and continue to bully their families – spouses and children. Their children then become bullies too. By stopping the violence in childhood, the cycle can be broken.
- Seifert says most school shooters felt bullied or rejected by other students. Only a counselor can assess the risk of additional violence in students. Encourage your child to speak up if he or she suspects someone of getting to the point of violence.
- Discuss your children’s on-line behavior (including what he does with his cell phone). Periodically check out the things he’s posting for bullying clues. Seifert says it’s good parenting to monitor this – it’s not an invasion of privacy. We must teach our children how to behave properly on-line, just like we taught them how to behave in public or how to treat others.
- If your child is being bullied, encourage him to go to a parent or a teacher and make them feel assured they will be protected against retaliation. Fighting back may stop a bully from bugging your child but they’ll continue to bully someone else. Keep an open dialog with your child so you can keep tabs on her attitude, friends, activities, etc.
- Fighting may solve the issue of getting bullied in the short term, but only talking about it will solve it long-term. Talking takes a long time to work but it’s the most effective in the long term. So teach your children to keep asking for help until she feels safe.
- Remind your children of the serious outcomes of bullying such as victims taking their own lives and bullies facing legal charges. Allowing bullying to continue has serious consequences.
By teaching our children to face bullying and stop the cycle, we can reduce the tragedies and produce healthier kids.
About Dr. Kathryn Seifert
(from her website) Youth and family violence expert Dr. Kathy Seifert is one of the world’s leading authorities at predicting which people are most likely to commit a future act of violence. She is the author of the CARE (Child & Adolescent Risk Evaluation) screening tool — one of the world’s most accurate predictors of future violence in children and the only assessment of its kind to provide a complete intervention plan to counteract violent tendencies before it’s too late.
Dr. Seifert is also the author of the RME (Risk Management Evaluation) for Women — the only assessment in the world that identifies violence and sexual abuse risk factors written specifically for women. Dr. Seifert is the CEO of Eastern Shore Psychological Services (ESPS), a multidisciplinary private practice that specializes in working with high-risk youth and their families. She has over 30 years experience in mental health, addictions, and criminal justice work. She specializes in the assessment and treatment of attachment disorders, a condition that can make boys three times as likely to become violent later in life. ]]>