WASHINGTON, D.C.—Bullying is a major problem facing our youth today in our nation’s schools and also when they go home for the day. When I was a kid, you would leave the bullies behind when you got off the school bus and went into your home. However, now thanks to cell phones, Facebook, Twitter and all the other social networking sites and community boards, many young people cannot escape being bullied and harassed on a daily basis. Many today are being bullied into suicide. Campaigns such as “It Gets Better” and even church groups are trying to embrace the kids who are being bullied, and offer them support and hope for the future.
When people commit suicide, they are obviously at their loneliest and lowest point in their lives. It’s difficult to explain to young people that things do get better. Especially when there are so many adults and parents who also bully. Try posting a comment on Facebook or Twitter, and watch the attacks come to your page within minutes. As an adult, you can delete the person and move on. However, kids don’t always have the same options we adults have. They may fear the bully’s retaliation if they delete them from their Facebook or Twitter accounts, they may get beaten up by the bully in school or even worse.
I recently experienced a similar behavior, and realized this person is a parent of several children. Just think what this person’s children are learning from their parent’s bad, boorish and rude behavior? Isn’t it sad that so much of technology today is used to harass, threaten, annoy and yes, to bully others? The answers are not simple. Sometimes teenagers are confused enough about things in life, and to have the added torture of being bullied heaped on them is unconscionable. Many parents can’t call up the parents of the child who may be bullying their child. The authorities would rather stay out of it and many teachers and school officials turn their heads and wrongly believe that the child being bullied will actually grow up fine, or the bully will grow out of being one.
The answers are certainly not simple. However, there are certain things a parent can do today to help ensure their child does not grow up to accept bullying as a normal behavior. Children have to be taught that people are not all bad. However, if they are bullied, parents need to remind their child that the horrible words or actions they are being victimized by are not true. If a bully tells your child they are ugly, fat or wear ugly clothes. They don’t have to accept that as truth. I have learned through studies that many bullies are equally as insecure and many are being victimized and bullied by parents and others within their family unit. Many of the worst bullies are victims of child abuse at home, and their immature way of handling it, is to inflict pain and fear onto others.
Other ways to combat the problem are, can be showing your child that they are not what someone says they are, attacking the problem by reporting any bullying to school officials, and if they refuse to listen, keep reporting it. Children should actually not be on Facebook or Twitter, until they are mature enough to handle the responsibilities of being in the public realm. Also, they should never befriend online or in person any stranger, adult or even another child. Your child’s safety should be your paramount goal. You, the parent are the responsible party, and oftentimes children won’t even confide in their own parents if they are having problems. So make sure your child knows at least one trusted adult in the family, in the neighborhood, church or at school that they can confide in. Teach your child that if they cannot come to you to solve a problem, that they can go to another adult who will talk to you about their concerns. However, any adult that asks a child to keep a secret should not be trusted or tolerated by you. Even if it’s the family’s priest, doctor or another adult relative. Your child should not share secrets
Unfortunately, these are only suggestions. Every situation deserves and requires an adult to make a wise and sober decision about the handling of each situation on an individual basis. But, as the parent, teacher or guardian, it is up to you to protect and offer security to every child you have under your control. Perhaps even the bully can be helped. The most important thing is to get involved. Don’t wait for your child to come to you, go to your child and ask how they are doing, how they are being treated by their peers, and most importantly, listen carefully. Parents and other adults who are around children know when they are being honest, and when they may be holding something back. Communication is the key to solving all of our problems, whether they are big or small. Teach your child that if someone is not respecting them, to get out of the relationship, and if they cannot get away from the bully, then it’s up to you (the parent), to take control of the situation.
Please remember our brave troops who are in Afghanistan and Iraq, fighting the terrorists. May they return to their families and their homes safely and soon.
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