Statistics show that almost thirty percent, or over 5.7 million teens in the United States are estimated to be involved in bullying. It could be either as a bully, target of a bully, or both. Bullying can involve direct attacks like hitting, or more subtle indirect attacks like spreading rumors. Statistics also show that bullying among boys is more common than bullying among girls, but it still happens nonetheless. Most parents never notice that their child is being bullied or are the bully and therefore never think to talk to their child about it. Bullying can affect people more than we realize and can ultimately lead to a more dangerous situation including the victim carrying weapons for protection or for revenge, depression, and sometimes even suicide. Bullying is often a sign of a child or teen that is heading for trouble and are at risk for more serious violence. Bullies are four times more likely than non-bullies to be convicted of crimes by age twenty four with sixty percent of bullies having at least one criminal conviction.
Myself, as a parent knowing these statistics, started talking to my kids at a young age about people’s feelings and how they would feel if someone were to say mean things or do mean things to them. When faced with sibling bullying, I ask them how would they feel if someone hit them or called them a name. Every time they would answer with “I’d feel bad because I don’t want someone being mean to me.” When in social situations I have tried to ingrain that sense into my kids’ heads that they should treat other the way they wish to be treated. I had also talked to them about what to do if faced with a situation where another child hits them. My first answer was to defend themselves. I later learned that defending themselves or hitting someone back isn’t always the way to solve a problem. School and laws are now stricter in their procedures than they were when I was younger. So, after my son got in trouble in school for defending himself, I had to rethink what I was telling my kids and give the whole speech over. I always made sure that my kids knew that no matter what it was okay to come to me and their father about any problem they were having and that we would figure out how best to solve it. Now when one of my kids gets hit at school I have them tell the teacher or I speak to the teacher. If that doesn’t work then I make a point of speaking to that child’s parent. When my kids come home and tell me about someone calling them a name, I tell them to ignore that person, because no matter what anyone says about them, as long as they love themselves and they know that we love them and God loves them then that’s all that matters. I let them know that the other person doesn’t know them like we do and doesn’t know what kind of person they are because if they took the time to know them then they would love them to, and that in the end the only judgments of themselves that matter is their’s and God’s.
As far as them bullying others go, I have a no tolerance zone with it. If I see them hit another child or call another child a name, then I make them apologize for it. I ask them how they would feel if that child were to do the same to them because they were different. They always reply that they wouldn’t like it and it would hurt their feelings. I have always taught my kids that no matter what one’s race is, their gender, or the fact that they are a little bit different doesn’t make them any less special, any less deserving than any of us. I try to teach them that all those differences is what makes a person unique in their own way because if everyone were exactly the same then the world would be a boring place. I let them know that it isn’t a person’s fault that they were born a different skin color, or that they were born with a physical or mental handicap. I make it a point that all people, no matter who they are, have feelings and are no different social than they are.
Without this kind of advice I believe that one or all of my kids could fall in the statistics of bullying. Do I believe that some bullying by kids is a parent’s problem? Yes, I do. I say that for the simple fact that all around me, no matter where I go, I constantly see kids who call other or their parents names, hit, push, and are just flat out mean, and the whole time that it is going on the parent hears it but chooses not to correct the child or laughs about it. Those parents know who they are and should know that because of that, their child will more than likely be a bullying statistic.
Parents, talk to you kids, no matter what age they are or what grade they are at in school. Bullying happens at every age level. Make sure your child isn’t a bully or a victim and if they are please do something about it. Haven’t we lost enough lives to statistics already?