This week, I was interested to see bullying hit the spotlight in a very real sense at the beginning of National Bullying Awareness Month. News anchor Jennifer Livingston from La Crosse, Wisconsin proved that bullying isn’t something that happens only to kids. After receiving an email from a viewer telling her she was a horrible example to young people because of her weight, Livingston responded on air. She let the viewer know that he doesn’t actually know her, or her struggles, and that it isn’t acceptable to bully her.
Livingston pointed out that bullying is a major issue, especially for young people, and that many of them don’t know better than to make fun of people. She also mentions that kids who bully often learn it from their parents, who need to lead with a positive example instead. This October, which is National Bullying Awareness Month, all of us should take the time to consider how our attitudes affect our kids and how we can teach them.
Supporting Kids who are Bullied
I recently had a firsthand experience supporting a bullied child. My younger cousin, who is in middle school, was being made fun of by her peers because she hadn’t used a fancy new tablet before and didn’t know how to navigate it. She only has experience on an older desktop computer, and the kids at school were calling her dumb and making fun of her socioeconomic situation. She came home in tears, and her mom asked me to come hang out with her.
I told her about when I was in school and felt left out because all of my friends were chatting online and my family didn’t even have a computer in the house so I couldn’t join in. Knowing that she wasn’t the only one who was bullied helped her feel supported. I also reminded her that she can spend more time with kids who don’t care what kind of technology she uses. You can use similar strategies with your kids, sympathizing with them and helping them remove themselves from negative situations.
Teaching Your Kids to be Respectful to Everyone
On the flip side, you should also be conscious of whether your child may be a bully. If you find out that your child is making fun of other kids or behaving aggressively toward them, have a stern talk with your child to let him or her know that the behavior is not acceptable. If your child has been bullied in the past, remind him of how hurt he felt when that happened.
One area of particular concern with bullying is online bullying. This was exemplified in the story of the news anchor, who received the hurtful words as an email. As your kids develop an online presence, whether it’s on Facebook, Twitter or just through emails, teach them that the words they say matter. In particular, remind them to not make fun of others, even if they don’t think the kids will see what they’re saying.
Bullying is a huge issue, particularly in school-aged children, and it’s not one you should ignore. Teach your kids to be kind to others, even when they look or act different. Model the behavior yourself so they can learn from you. And when they aren’t bullied, don’t ignore it. This can develop into a serious issue, and it’s your job to support your kids and equip them with strategies to cope and remove themselves from situations in which they are bullied.
Editor’s note: For an additional take on bullying written by Scott, follow this link.
About the author: Danielle, who blogs on behalf of Sears and other prestigious brands, enjoys entertaining and socializing as well as maintaining a healthy lifestyle. She has a weakness for new running socks and old family recipes.