Beating the Bully.

This morning while browsing google news(as I usually do in the morning) I came across a series of articles dedicated to “bullying”.  Just to get a good idea of what I mean, when I say a series of articles, these are just SOME of the articles I came across this morning:

http://www.cnn.com/2010/LIVING/10/05/bullying.q.and.a/

http://mylatinovoice.com/politics-and-us/25-lo-que-es/2371-bullying-another-american-tradition.html

http://amfix.blogs.cnn.com/2010/10/05/bullying-solutions/

http://my.hsj.org/Schools/Newspaper/tabid/100/view/frontpage/articleid/375307/newspaperid/2744/Celebrities_speak_up_about_bullying.aspx

Obviously bullying has become a HUGE issue in this country, and amongst our children. Bullying happens in schools, on playgrounds, in sports/activities, in college, in our homes, and even in the “viral” world. It affects most age groups(even those who are over age 18) and it affects both genders.  It’s become an unavoidable issue–and one that many experts are still trying to understand. If you happen to read any of the above articles they provide great perspectives on the issue, possible solutions, and what it’s like to be a bully and to be bullied.

I did know a girl who was bullied when I was in elementary school.  Girls picked on her, because she was sort of an “oddball”. It wasn’t anything like “I’ll take your lunch money”. It was more like: “Your ugly” or purposely leaving this particular girl out of activities  and events, and whispering about her in front of her face.

Obviously you can imagine the emotional damage that can do to a child. So how does a child in that situation “beat the bully”?  That’s where it’s get complex. Because as parents we don’t want a violent child, we don’t want a disrespectful child, but at the same time we don’t want our child to be bullied, and we certainly don’t want people to pick on our child because of a perceived weakness.  So what do we do? Well for starters, before our children even start school we make sure to have a “talk” with them. We go over with them: how to identify a bully, how to stop ourselves from being targeted and how if need be to defend ourselves if we are bullied.

A bully typically has a variety of roles–a bully is the popular boy or girl, the bully can be the “big” kid(bigger than most in the grade), the bully can be the kid that “fights” a lot or comes from a chaotic background. So obviously there is no “certain” description for a bully, but there are certain “traits” that bullies exhibit–such as popularity, strength, a “no-nonsense” personality, or an indifference to authority. Like anything, bullies will pick on what they perceive to be the “weak” or “fearful” child. The bully often can sense which child fits that description. They often test their classmates out, to see who stands up for himself/herself and who doesn’t. Those who don’t or those who seem fearful are the ones that become the “bullied”. So right away it’s important that we teach our child how to stand up for himself/herself. What to do in a situation where he/she was being bullied and how to “fight” back. And more importantly we instill in our children confidence, integrity, and the “strength” to not be afraid to fight back if a situation calls for it.  Enrolling children in self-defense courses, and other physical sports instills confidence within them. And teaching our children what to do in “bully” type of environments, teaches our children how to react.

Of course this doesn’t mean that they won’t be a target. It just means that they will be prepared for circumstances to which they are in a position of being bullied.

It’s equally important that parents pay attention to their children, and look for “signs” of bullying. Typically these include: not wanting to go to school, coming home emotionally withdrawn, grades dropping, a sudden change in behavior, and of course our child telling us directly what is happening. The moment you know your child is being bullied don’t be afraid to talk with school administrators to address the problem.

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