Many of us have heard horror stories which have come about because of bullying whether online or in-person by peers. Let’s be honest, kids can be terrible. But what about adults? What is the responsibility of adults, from teachers to parents to coaches and so on? We all play a role in how we manage bullying from talking with our kids at home, to how we carry ourselves around others and specifically, how we treat other people. Adults are the role models for children, we can’t expect them to be respectful and basically not bully if we the adults, the grown-ups don’t show them the responsible ways to act.
Many times, bullying for kids occurs in school, many of these institutions have anti-bullying policies. One of the steps I suggest to parents when they express concerns around bullying is to talk with their child’s school about these policies and to have a copy on-hand. We often need to remind schools that having a policy is not enough, it must have an action plan. The plan needs to address what bullying is, what are the steps to report bullying, and what happens after the report in terms of handling the incidents. An important step is also educating on impacts of bullying, not just for kids but to the staff working with these kids, because this goes back to a prior point, we are their role models, what we do, so will they.
This needs to lead to the creation of safe environments for all. I know that not all kids are going to be friends, but all kids do not need to bully. There are zero good reasons to bully someone! The ramifications can be tragic. Kids and adults have killed themselves because of being bullied. Attendance is impacted in schools by bullying as well, often due to anxiety experienced at the thought of being in the environment. Kids are smart, they can see where the bullying takes place and where it doesn’t. If you’ve ever had to deal with an anxious child and struggled to get them on the bus or in the car or even off the bus or out of the car at school, you know what I mean. It’s taxing on all involved. We all need to do better and be better.
I encourage families to have meetings within their homes that are welcoming to discuss all topics including bullying. Parents, don’t be afraid to ask questions, contact the school and advocate for your children. We do not have to tolerate such behaviors nor the ignoring of such horrific behaviors. These meetings can be a great way to stay connected as a family and support one another.
In addition to family meetings, be available for your kids, no matter the topic. Our kids need us, sometimes as a sounding board, other times to discuss different topics. My wife and I have made a consistent practice of asking our kids about how their day went, specifically, “What was the best part of your day?” You can do this any way you want but I thought I’d share as an example. The point is to let your kids know your their if they need you and they are not alone.