I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance
Never settle for the path of least resistance
Livin’ might mean takin’ chances, but they’re worth takin’
Lovin’ might be a mistake, but it’s worth makin’
Don’t let some Hellbent heart leave you bitter
When you come close to sellin’ out, reconsider
Give the heavens above more than just a passing glance
And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance (Time is a wheel in constant motion always rolling us along)
I hope you dance (Tia Sillers & Mark Sanders, 2000)
Getting help will see you over the hurdles of raising them!
Imagine a wonderful child, the delight of her parent’s life. However, at school, she is bullied by the other children because she looks a little different. Imagine a boy who has a devoted mother, whose only pain is that other children at school laugh at him because he looks different.
As the last installment of my Child’s month series, I chose to focus on bullying because several conversations during the week revealed the urgency of the situation. Research shows that school aged children had experienced these various types of bullying:
“name calling (44.2 %); teasing (43.3 %); spreading rumors or lies (36.3%); pushing or shoving (32.4%); hitting, slapping, or kicking (29.2%); leaving out (28.5%); threatening (27.4%); stealing belongings (27.3%); sexual comments or gestures (23.7%); e-mail or blogging (9.9%)” (Bradshaw, Sawyer, & O’Brennan, 2007).
Bullying involves “unwanted aggressive behavior; observed or perceived power imbalance; and repetition of behaviors or high likelihood of repetition” (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017). The same source acknowledges 2 modes and 4 types of bullying:
“direct (e.g., bullying that occurs in the presence of a targeted youth) and indirect (e.g., bullying not directly communicated to a targeted youth such as spreading rumors). In addition to these two modes, the four types of bullying include broad categories of physical, verbal, relational (e.g., efforts to harm the reputation or relationships of the targeted youth), and damage to property” (https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html).
On the rise is electronic bullying or cyberbullying which is involves threatening or harassing electronic communications, and using electronic devices to spread rumors.
A recent case is of … whose father did not know about her crisis at school until his daughter posted a video on social media asking other kids to stop making fun of her.
Do you think that your child may be at risk? Check out the following statistics:
- Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 U.S. students say they have been bullied at school (S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2017).
- Most bullying happens in middle school. The most common types are verbal and social bullying.
Strategies to Combat Bullying:
- Multifaceted, involving all stakeholders —students, families, administrators, teachers, and staff such as bus drivers, nurses, cafeteria and front office staff— to create a culture of respect.
- Active intervention by adults who witness bullying is highly effective.
- Open communication between parents and children “about bullying, encouraging them to do what they love, modeling kindness and respect, and encouraging them to get help when they are involved in bullying or know others who need help” (https://www.stopbullying.gov/media/facts/index.html) is effective.
Your child may be a victim of bullying if they used to enjoy going to school then suddenly they are avoiding school because of manufactured illnesses. Another way of recognizing the experience of bullying is if your talkative and outgoing child suddenly clams up about school and has little to say about the day’s activities. Sometimes, it can even occur on social media. Where it is electronic, parents can monitor their children’s devices with security apps. These programmes allow you to check for key words that would suggest that something is wrong, for example, “ugly,” “stupid,” “dumb,” “fat” and so on.
As I contemplated this blog, a father-to-be reminded me that bullying, although an awful experience for kids, serves a useful purpose. He said that bullying teaches children that the world is not a nice place. Children learn at some point that they cannot expect the same measure of love and care from strangers that they receive from parents and/or other family.
Bullies are a reminder that we cannot protect our children from everything. But, we can work with them through the problem to discover realistic solutions for coexisting with others.
At the end of the day, our children need to know that they will always come home to safety and acceptance. I leave you with these lines from Clark Richard to his daughter, away from home,
“And when we are apart remember it is not the end
You know enough to know we’ll meet again
I’ll be waiting by the gate
Standing just inside
Til I know you’ve made it home all right” (Richard, 2010).
Maybe there’s another book in the making for parents who are still seeking practical answers for their children. Until then, why don’t you check out the books already on the market that give a glimpse into the mind of teen girls and teen boys at http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD. The responses can be adapted for children of all ages.