The emotionally charged issue of childhood bullying is back
in the forefront of public attention after the opening of the documentary, Bully
earlier this month. According to the Department for Health and Human Services
, between1/5 and 1/3 of teens report being
bullied within any given year. While kids may often be aggressive to one
another, to qualify as bullying, this behavior requires specific qualities: it
and uses an imbalance of power
with intent to cause harm
Some parents of children being bullied may feel powerless
to stop the harassment and protect their children,
despite their best efforts. After the suicide of their 11-year old son, Kirk and
Laura Smalley were able to move beyond their deep pain and create something
positive honoring Ty’s memory. They began lecturing about the problem and created
a website, Stand for the Silent.
encourages others to get involved and
prevent further persecutions by being supportive of the intimidated kids,
empowering youth to create cultures of kindness and stand up to bullying.
Parents can help promote upstander
– rather than bystander – behavior in their own children
by role modeling empathic behavior toward others. Here are some steps you can
take to help create a safe environment,
Just and Caring Community,
for all kids:
Talk openly. And
often. Use the good communication techniques you’ve learned over the years –
using active listening, sending i-messages, attending to non-verbal signals,
keeping your emotions in check. Encouraging honest conversations with your
children teaches them to trust themselves in expressing their thoughts and
feelings to others.
Show kindness and
empathy. Nurture positive relationships around you and express your
gratitude for them. Lead in helping your child find healthy, non-abusive ways
to resolve conflicts. Reinforce the family rules, including those that don’t
tolerate behavior that is harmful to another.
Broaden your own circle to include more of the rich cultural tapestry of your
community. Encourage your children to accept and learn about others who are
different from them.
Care for others.
Reach out to help and support those who need comfort. Give back as you build an
atmosphere of responsibility and compassion in your home that can extend into
your child’s world at school and beyond.
Act to protect those
in danger. Get involved yourself in causes you believe in and let your
children know that actions can generate effective outcomes. Reinforce your
teen’s commitment to create a safe school environment and take actions to
defend a victim of bullying.
has now been viewed by thousands of children and families
across the country. The film may be uncomfortable to watch but the experience powerfully
challenges all of us to work together to stop bullying
Labels: active listening, administrator, bully, bullying, communication, harassment, parenting, protect, raising children, school, stand for the silent, thebullyproject, trust