Take a stand against bullying!
In support of National Bullying Prevention Month this October, I thought I would write my wish to stomp out bullying. All of us go through those awkward preteen and teenage years, and chances are that you have either been bullied, witnessed someone being bullied or have been the bully yourself. It has become critical to talk about the issues of bullying and cyber-bullying because of the harmful effects it causes. Founder Ross Ellis recognized this and created the Stomp Out Bullying campaign in 2005. Its goal is to encourage communities to work together to stop bullying (and cyber-bullying) by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of bullying on all children of all ages.
Now in its 11th year, the kindness movement continues. This month, I will do my best to raise bullying prevention awareness by educating how to effectively deal with bullying situations peacefully. In my mentoring program chapter that I facilitate, Girl Talk Marlton, we have girls ranging in age from 10-18 years old, and we discuss this topic quite often. It is a sad statistic but 1 out of 4 students in middle school and high school have been bullied. There are three different types of bullying: physical, verbal and social. Experts say that girls tend to excel at social bullying. Some bullying is obvious, like psychical attacks. While verbal and social bullying can be more subtle behaviors like exclusion, mocking, teasing, spreading rumors, starting gossip, online attacks, and scare tactics.
Sugar and spice and everything nice. That’s what little girls are made of, right? Well, a lot of girls seem so innocent and nice to us adults but bullying and nasty cliques start as early as elementary school! A good portion of preteen and teen girls deal with friendship struggles and various degrees of social cruelty and feel as they are alone, but they are not. They allow their so-called “friends” to treat them in ways they don’t deserve. WHY and how can we help empower them to not be treated this way?
Let’s start by teaching our girls values to look for in real friendships such as kindness, loyalty, positive attitudes, and honesty. Focus on showing them the differences between healthy and toxic friendships. “Do not teach your children never to be angry; teach them how to be angry.” —Lyman Abbott. I agree with this quote because teaching them to use assertive communication skills and accepting the anger helps to be able to walk away from those fake friendships with confidence. We should teach our children to stand up for themselves and others and not to be bystanders who witness the assaults, harassment and threats and remain silent.
If your child shares with you that they are being bullied, don’t intervene too soon. However, no child should have to find her way through this painful conflict alone, help guide them through some effective resolutions they can try first. Creating a plan that works with your child’s strengths and abilities can help build self-confidence and resilience. Be sure to listen and support them through this inevitable pain of bullies disguised as friends. If the bullying continues, contact the school to develop a plan to stomp out these bullies.
Stay connected with your preteen/teen to know what is going on in their everyday life, even though they make it so difficult. They need you (even though they don’t think so) and it is your job as their parent or caregiver to guide them through these tough years. This isn’t the time for you to be their friend, there will be plenty of time for that later in life. Have discussions with them about what is acceptable behavior on social networking, websites and text messaging. Make sure they aren’t being cyber-bullied or perhaps being the bully. Know what apps and online activities they are involved in, get their passwords (YES, passwords-you pay the bill don’t you?). Let your child know that using these technological tools is a privilege and don’t hesitate to take them away if they are not used properly. Remember YOU are in charge and that you are investing the time and care into your child because you love them. Don’t let your child bully you!
Stopping bullying is everyone’s responsibility. You can help do your part by raising awareness through community events and sharing information with others. Pass it on.
My wish……END THE HATE … CHOOSE KINDNESS … STOMP OUT BULLYING. MODEL POSITIVE BEHAVIOR THROUGHOUT YOUR DAY BY TREATING OTHERS WITH KINDNESS AND INTERVENING WHEN YOU SEE BULLYING BEHAVIOR.
Girl Talk Marlton/for The Wishwall