By their indifference to abuse, bullying, and harassment, parents, teachers, and employers send additional, subtle messages often written between the lines: You must also endure whatever comes with the package. It happens. Life is tough. Kids will be kids.
This is the post I never wanted to write. Each time I think of it, I'm shamed from my head to my toes, my heart aches and fills with acid shamefulness.
It was grade school. I've never thought of myself as a mean child. My mother was the epitome of kindness. I should have been. The incident resides in the forefront of my mind in vivid detail. One of my classmates brought pickled pigs feet in her lunch. To a fourth or fifth grade me, that was funny. Who eats those (obviously many do since most grocery stores carry them)? Even though the setting was a private Christian school, and our class was small, the chorus of teasing began in unison and went far beyond acceptable.
I wonder how she felt. Did she tell her parents or did she keep her pain so far hidden it has remained through the decades and wounds her every time it surfaces? If anyone would have asked my mother if I was a bully, I'm sure she would have said no. But that day? I was.
Incidents such as these comprise why I think it's so important to have conversations with your children about bullying. Conversation can reveal if your child is bullying or if they are being bullied.
- Does your child know what bullying is?
A bully's behavior hurts, humiliates, or harms another person physically or emotionally.
- Make time each day (the supper table or riding in the car) where everyone shares one good thing and one hard thing that occurred in their day.
- Share national and local news about treating others with respect and kindness or neglecting to do so. Great conversation starter.
- Discuss how to get help when your child witnesses a bullying incident.
Make sure your child knows it's acceptable to get help or tell a person in authority. Read Isaiah 1:17: Go to bat for the defenseless.
- Establish an open social media rule. Check to make sure your child is using cyberspace relationships with respect and that others are respecting them.
- Watch for symptoms that alert you that your child is being bullied.
Anxiety, depression, sudden desire to stay home from school, falling grades
- Explain how gossip can also be a form of bullying
Gossip is true, partially true, or not true at all. Yet, it's still wrong if it's negative and unkind. It's usually personal and shocking.
- Don't permit your children to call names, ridicule, taunt, intimidate, violate or tease excessively or physically hurt each other.
- Memorize this verse together: Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (Ephesians 4:29)
- Use Biblical examples of bullying.
- Goliath laughed and poked fun at David.
- Joseph's brothers bullied him because of their jealousy.
- Jesus was bullied by the religious leaders.
Many define bullying as ongoing instead of a one-time action. I believe any unkind action, however often, is a form of bullying. It is our responsibility to educate our children on a daily basis. Before you say, "not my child" remember, the good girl can bully -- and carry the shame for life.
Free Printable/Choose Your Bully Topic: Child's Journal Sheet