I hear stories about how the bullying of some of our kids by their peers have impacted them so powerfully. Even when schools are not in session the internet is still active and cyber-bullying can be just as harmful and damaging as what happens personally at school or in our neighborhoods.
How can we protect our children from being bullied? Well that is a difficult discussion since most of it happens out of the sight of parents and caregivers. So what can a parent do? Dr. Gail Saltz deals with this issue in an article on the Child Mind website. Here is the introduction to this topic in this article.
Getting bullied is a traumatic experience for a child. It diminishes self-esteem, leaves kids feeling depressed and anxious, and can have long-lasting effects. And, of course, modern technology creates more opportunities for bullying than ever before.
Why do kids torture each other this way? It’s normal for children to have some aggression. The question is how much they have, what they do with it, what parents are teaching them at home about it, and what’s being modeled for that child in terms of managing aggression. Kids who are bullied at home are far more likely to go out and bully other kids.
But the number of kids who bully others because they truly have sociopathy brewing, or are oppositional defiant kids, who may in fact derive gratification from the pain of others, is a relatively small number compared to the amount of bullying that goes on.
Others, and this is particularly true for girls, who may actually have a high social IQ and know how to work a system, will use bullying for power, to fortify their position. Here again, parents are influential. Are the parents expecting this child to be the powerful one? Are they sending either overt or covert messages that they want their child to be important, to be popular, to be feared?
Insecurity can also drive bullying — the feeling that unless you bully you will be the powerless one.
Also, unfortunately, there are now many more opportunities for bullying. Certainly the Internet and cell phones and all the social networking technology have opened up this whole arena of ways to bully. In some ways cyberbullying is more insidious and scarier, from the perspective of an adult, in that it’s 24/7.
A child who’s being bullied at school at least comes home at some point and is safe with her family. With the computer that potentially never goes away: at any time you could turn it on and find that someone has written something to shame and humiliate you, and you might not even know who is doing that to you.
Understanding the cause of bullying is helpful but what tools can parents and caregivers use to prepare and sustain their child in the wake of bullying? The article goes on to give 5 tips for parents to utilize to help their child or teenager with potential bullying.
As we reopen our schools there may be a return of the pervasiveness of bullying. Parents can be ready to prepare and help their kids so that they can deal with the potential impact of bullying before it happens. I believe being proactive will help our kids be more prepared and able to communicate actively about the impact of bullying.