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unfortunate circumstance
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6 Ways To Stop Bullying
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6 Ways to Stop Bullying

As a mother of a recently bullied son, I have become intimately aware of the growing concern of bullying. I have come to the realization there are many fallacies surrounding bully stereotypes and the victims of bullying.

Growing up I envisioned bullies being the original victims, and they in turn begin controlling others through bullying to intimidate and hurt others physically and emotionally.

I naively thought the victims were weak, timid, shy, vulnerable, helpless individuals that were easy prey, and stood out in a crowd.

Neither my beliefs of bullies nor victims held true in my son's unfortunate circumstance. I've come to the harsh reality that it spreads beyond the simple-minded beliefs I had. I never dreamed my son would be the target for bullying, nor would I have guessed those that were bullying him.

Reflecting over the sad events of the past five months, it has heightened the awareness of many in our community. There are several lessons we learned that need to be shared.

1) Monitor All Electronic Devices

Years ago a child came home with a black eye and it was evident there had been problems at school. In today's world of bullying, it comes in forms of threats through electronic devices; much more difficult to "see" and address.

If your child has access to Facebook, texting, and other electronic devices, check up on them. Read messages and Facebook at various times of the day, check the devices in and out (they don't need them 24/7), know your children's login codes. Ask yourself, "Do children really need cell phones in their bedrooms?" "Do they need them throughout the day?" Give them access when they need it, not necessarily when they want it.

As parents we think too often that we don't have a right to infringe on our children's privacy. It is not only our right, it is our responsibility.

2) Watch for Change in Behaviors and Patterns

My son and I have always been very close. We spend a lot of time together since he is younger than his other siblings and my husband is frequently out of town with his work. I know my son extremely well.

When subtle changes in behaviors and patterns began, I didn't want to "make a big deal out of it". I asked him a few questions and when he answered them reasonably I chalked it off to growing into a teen. It was just a phase; he didn't feel the need to confide in Mom as much anymore.

The changes were extremely subtle and came quickly; over a few days. You have the right as a parent to pry and question your children when your gut is telling you something is wrong!

3) Bullying and Being a Victim of Bullying Doesn't Come in One Shape and Size

My son is a very likeable kid. I say that not only because I have a biased parental opinion, but also because he typically gets along well with others. He is smart, good looking, integrates well with all ages, including his peers. He wasn't the stereotypical kid to become a victim.

On the flip side of the situation, those that were bullying him were also not stereotypical; they were his friends and classmates. They were people he had grown up with, played with, and gone to school with, for years.

It was a situation gone bad, that none of them walked away from until it escalated over the course of several days.

Don't think that your child would never bully or be bullied. Be aware of the changing course of friendships, comments being made about friends, classes, etc. I'm not saying become paranoid, but heighten your awareness. Talk openly with them.

4) Be Proactive

After our son began receiving professional help, it was determined that as a family we had never taught our son proper coping skills to handle bullies. We are a very calm and easy going family. Our children seldom argue and never get physically violent with each other.

My husband and I are respectful even when we have disagreements. We don't find the need to hit our children or treat them disrespectfully. Yes, they get disciplined when needed, but it is never violent.

Our home is his number one place of refuge, our church is his second level of refuge, which is also a very protected environment. When he went to school and was faced with threats, he didn't know how to properly handle the situation.

Be proactive and teach your children proper coping skills so if they are ever "backed into a corner", they know what to do. Go through role plays, if necessary. Play the "what would you do if..." game. Prepare them, even if you don't think they would ever be a victim.

5) Don't Count on Others To Address the Problem

We entrust our children to others for a fair amount of the day when they are in school. We put all of our faith in teachers and administrators to oversee the safety of our children. We came to a very humbling reality that teachers and administrators are either afraid to get involved, or they don't know what to do.

There were several points over the course of several days that adults could have intervened to stop the bullying. The reasons why they didn't stop the bullying is still unanswered; and never will be.

I guess it is like many of us in similar situations, we question ourselves..."Should I get involved, or am I overstepping my authority?", "What will others think?", "What if I offend someone?", "It's just child's play". So to protect ourselves from embarrassment, ridicule, criticism, it is easier to ignore problems, including bullying, that get it to stop.

When the situation is identified, listen to your child and offer them guidance. If they open up to you about something, don't tell them to "just suck it up". Support them, help them through it. Give them support and help so either they can resolve the situation with the proper tools, or you can aid your support and talk to the parents of the other student(s) or school administration.

6) Don't Ignore or Underestimate the Problem

No matter how small a problem may seem to you as a parent, if it is traumatic for your child, take it seriously.

As grown adults we have the ability, through life experiences and training, to put things into proper perspective. Many children are still developing their personal skills (and coping skills).

If your child brings a concern to you, stop and listen! Nothing is more important than giving your child the opportunity to diffuse or share concerns with you. If you ignore a child that is struggling, the consequences could be traumatic.

It takes each one of us to stop bullying in schools. It is not a one person job. Keeping in touch with our children will help us stop the bullying. Whether our child is the bully, or the one being bullied, they need our help.


Street Talk

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