Although some people once considered bullying a rite of passage, parents, educators, and community leaders now see bullying as a devastating form of abuse that can have long-term effects on youthful victims, robbing them of self-esteem, isolating them from their peers, causing them to drop out of school, and even prompting health problems and suicide. Bullying impacts some kids because they take what the bully says to them seriously and what they hear can have a lasting effect. Over time we’ve heard criminals blame their childhood for the crimes they’ve committed. We cannot let this be an excuse, but we can recognize bullying as a contributing factor and work to prevent it. If we can stop just one crime where innocent people get killed, like the atrocities this week at Virginia Tech and Columbine High School eight years ago, wouldn’t it be worth it?
At both Virginia Tech and Columbine, those who committed the murders were the quiet kids who were not like everyone else, the kids who didn’t fit in. They were bullied and ridiculed, causing them to react the way they did. They grew to hate the people who bullied them and those who they perceived to be like the bullies. I am not here to give excuses for what these people did; they were completely culpable for their acts. But if everyone worked to prevent bullying, perhaps some of these types of crimes could be prevented.
If each of us doesn’t take the time to stop it, then we all pay.
The National Crime Prevention Council has worked for years to stop bullying and recently launched a cyberbullying campaign aimed at stopping bullying on the Internet. Some tips on how to stop bullying follow.
- Take complaints of bullying seriously. Don’t dismiss your child’s concerns or expect your child to work through the situation alone.
- Talk to your child’s teacher, counselor, or other caregiver about reports of bullying. Work together to address the bullying situation. Don’t confront the parents of the bully directly.
- Ask your child specific questions about how your child is treated by peers, who he or she eats lunch with, and how other children are treated.
- Teach your child to be assertive. Your child should be able to express feelings and needs clearly, without shouting or other aggressive behavior.
- Provide opportunities for your child to make friends. Identify some of your child’s interests and encourage your child to pursue them through sports, clubs, or other group activities.
- Teach your child to identify bullying behaviors. These include hitting, damaging possessions, threatening, name calling, excluding someone from the group, spreading rumors, and embarrassing others.
- Teach your child strategies for managing bullying. If bullied, your child can walk away, tell the bully to stop, avoid the bully, or tell and adult.
- If your child sees someone else being bullied, he or she can help the victim walk away, invite the victim over to play or eat lunch, tell the bully to stop picking on someone, or tell and adult.
- Tell your child that you do not tolerate bullying behavior. If you learn that your child has been bullying others, work with your child’s teacher, counselor, or other caregiver to end the bullying.
- Be a positive role model. Avoid using threats or aggression when disciplining your child or when interacting with other adults.
If you would like more information how to prevent bullying please visit the NCPC website.