Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Other Side of Bullying

When the subject of bullying comes up, I often hear people urging,

 "Teach your child to stand up for himself. Have him kick that bully right in the nuts so he can never reproduce little bullying clones of himself!"

and they think I will agree with them, which I only partially do.Yes, it is good to teach your child to defend him or herself, although it may be a little harsh when you are advocating playground castration of second-graders.

There are two other aspects to reducing bullying, though. Here is one important one - Teach your kids not to be little assholes. Those bullies belong to somebody and that somebody is probably thinking, "Not my kid."

 Have "The Talk" with your children

I don't mean talking about sex (though you should probably do that, too) but talking about bullies and "mean girls" at school. When I would see Disney channel shows where the hero / heroine is left out or picked on by the popular kids, I would launch into what Jennifer calls "Mom Lecture #734" where I would say,

 "See those kids with the flashy cars and the blonde hair, that just pushed that kid down and everyone laughed? Those kids are little assholes. They think they are all cool but they'll probably end up working at the gas station after their divorce while that kid they are picking on will be president of Shell Oil or win the Nobel prize for medicine." 

 Julia made the mistake of buying a shirt that said, "You can't sit with us." 

 I went into full mom rant mode about how I hated that attitude and I could not stand those girls who told other people they couldn't sit with them. Who the fuck did they think they were, anyway? What the hell kind of person is mean to other people for no reason? Finally, Julia said,

"Mom, calm down. I know how you feel about mean girls and I'm not on the Disney channel. It's just a shirt they sold in the Promenade." 

 I think it "accidentally" got ruined in the dryer the next week. What a shame.

Here is the second part of reducing bullying - teach your child to stand up for other people as well as him or herself Again, don't raise a selfish little cowardly asshole who thinks,

 "As long as no one is picking on me, it's okay. Every man for himself!" 

 Why should your child stand up for other kids? Because it's right. It's kind. Teach your child to be kinder than necessary, to be a person who is strong but not mean. Not only will there be less bullying, but you will have a good kid. What about those "other kids" who don't learn to stand up to bullies? They are their parents' problem, but if you raise your kid to be a decent human being, their parents will have fewer problems and so will you.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Teaching your kid to stick up for himself could sometimes have the opposite consequences. My brother is a priest and had a speaker on bullying at his parish a while back My brother said he alluded to an interesting question: if persons in authority usually catch the retaliation and not the initial aggression, then shouldn't we conclude that zero tolerance policies tend to victimize the victim?