After attending the last masterclass hosted by Dr Bock I've come to realise how the issue of bullying can cut so deep. I knew the issue existed, but I personally had no idea that bullying was amongst the BIGGEST issues faced by schools.
Now, unless you’ve had an actual experience being bullied, I’m guessing it’s not the easiest situation to deal with. Either you were the one being bullied, you were the bully or maybe you watched someone being bullied. I thought this was an extremely relevant topic chosen for discussion.
We all have our own interpretation of this subject however bullying is basically when a person or a group of people hurt, embarrasses or frightens another person repeatedly, on purpose. It takes many different forms, from name calling, teasing, rude hand gestures, sexual harassment, threats, mean text messages, stealing or breaking personal belongings, to intimidation from gangs, spreading rumours, leaving someone out and cyberbullying.
As a side note, while we talk primarily about school kids here, bullying does not end within the walls of an educational institution. It occurs in other relationships too, like parent and teacher, teacher and student, in the workplace i.e. bosses and subordinates and/or clients, parents and children and vice versa…… just a thought!!!
I don’t know about you but as a parent myself, its a tough call to appropriately deal with either your child being bullied or being a bully. My first instinct both ways as a parent is to protect my child, fight for them and defend them at all costs, never mind trying to teach THEM, the correct responses. We’ve all heard the saying that knowledge is power and as cliché as it sounds, I believe there’s some truth to it. There’s nothing worse than being clueless about something that’s thrown at you and not knowing how to respond to it.
“We take time to prepare for that exam or drivers test, what about preparing to educate your kids about bullying … Why do they have to learn from google? … it’s a missed opportunity” Dr Wilfred Bock
Well, here’s a few tips from Dr Bock and his guest Tumisho Masha about dealing this issue!
IF YOU’RE BEING BULLIED…
▪ Walk or run away if you believe that you are in danger as quickly as possible
▪ Talk to an adult you trust (hopefully that adult can be your parent) – Let your child know that an adult can help stop the bullying
▪ Bullies normally target loners. Encourage your kids to stay in a group
▪ Avoid the bully
▪ Stand up for yourself, if you don’t feel like you are in danger. Stand up straight, look at the bully in the eye and confidently say leave me alone and walk away!
▪ Don’t, fight back, cry or ignore the “bully situation” and think it will go away
IF YOU ARE THE BULLY …
The flip side off course is when you find that your child is the actual bully. In this instance, it’s incredibly important to understand that these children are not bad people! They are merely displaying outbursts in behaviour perhaps relating to experiences that negatively impacted them. This behaviour translates into bullying when in fact, in many instances these children want to be friends and want to be liked.
▪ Encourage your child stop the bullying immediately
▪ Teach your kid about being respectful
▪ Kids should talk with an adult they trust about what makes them do the things they do
▪ Get professional help for your child where necessary
AS THE PARENT …
While the above are practical tips on creating an awareness around bullying, in many instances it won’t remove the psychological harm and emotional scars that come with experiencing this. You can…
▪ Be there for your kid!
▪ Educate your kids on what is acceptable. Focussed efforts around educating kids on what is acceptable must be done from the home ground first…. don’t rely on school, Google or TV.
▪ The home needs to be a safe place to allow kids to talk about their experiences good and bad. Parents can then look further into the situation before either ignoring it or going “guns blazing” to the school teacher.
▪ Believe that educators will not and should not allow bullying. Rather use the opportunity to reflect, have a conversation and investigate and once you know enough, find a way forward.
▪ Allow your kids to be different and embrace the differences of others. Teach them to be proud of who they are and understand that not everyone will think they are amazing and that’s ok!
“Not everyone will love you, but if your family loves you, that’s enough” Tumisho Masha
Lastly, a prevalent part of this topic that absolutely cannot be ignored is Cyber bullying. Many kids are offered tech devices these days, either parents feel they are old enough, it is primarily needed as a communication tool, or most schools require it to conduct schoolwork. The fact that they have access to these devices means they have possible access to the internet and social media. While we cannot eliminate their use and access, as parents, it is our responsibility to ensure that the relevant control and boundaries are in place to safeguard our kids. Check in regularly with your kids’ devices...know who they are talking to. Encourage them to block delete and/or leave groups that pose potential harm to them.
I’m sincerely hoping this write up helps you and your child make a start to combat this unnecessary but prevalent issue that exists in our communities. Here’s a few words I reckon we can all take a cue from….
Be strong but not rude. Be kind but not weak. Be humble but not timid. Be proud but not arrogant.