The definition of bullying is when a person or a group of people repeatedly do something on purpose to make someone else feel hurt, sad, excluded, scared or embarrassed where there is an imbalance of power.
I have bullied and been bullied. You probably have experienced both as well. All of my kids have been bullied and have bullied other kids too. Some kids are much sweeter by nature and even being unkind is rare but most kids can be mean and bully others at times.
A few weeks ago, I took a class on bullying. It was pretty interesting and also thought provoking. Our trainer, Steve, has tons of experience working with schools and workplaces. What really struck me was the fact that so many children as well as adults don’t seem to care or think about the affect to others or the effects that their actions could have.
Steve told us about a few teen girls who were being bullied by a friend from school and they retaliated by posting a compromising photo of the girl who offended them online. Later the girls who posted the photo had police on their door step threatening to charge the girls with world wide distribution of pornography. Wow. That is a conviction that will haunt you forever. How the internet has changed the futures of our children.
By age 12, under the Canadian criminal code, children are presumed to know everything it says in the criminal code. They are presumed to be adults. Heck, I bet most adults don’t know everything in the criminal code. I know an adult who was charged with assault with a weapon for throwing an empty coffee cup in the general direction of someone she was mad at. Another person charged with the same for throwing an apple at her boyfriend. By age 12, children can get into a lot of trouble and it’s up to the adults in this world to help them navigate through their teen years without being charged with things that could be avoided by understanding rules and a bit of law.
Adults are the ones who need to help kids who are being bullied. Adults are the ones who can help stop the bullying from happening. The problem is many adults don’t deal with it well.
Parents have you heard of these Apps?
This app looks like a calculator but functions like a secret photo vault.
A free online chat site that promotes chatting anonymously to strangers.
This app is designed to allow the user to flirt with each other like tinder.
An anonymous app where they promote sharing secrets and meeting new people.
Ask an anonymous question and get answers. This app has been linked to severe forms of bullying.
Hot or Not
Strangers rate your profile. The goal is the lead to a hook-up.
Allows you to post anonymous rumours about people through audio, messages, texts and photos.
An app that allows users to compare against each other and rate them on a scale.
A messaging app that has built in apps that would be filtered on a home computer.
Kids are now creating fake accounts to hide their content from parents. They also frequently use it to message others because they know their parents won’t check messages.
As a mom of many kids, this list was disturbing to me. I knew of only about half of these. Are you aware of what your kids are saying and showing others on their phones or ipods? Are your kids being bullied on these sites? Parenting in 2019 is a lot more complicated than it has been in the past. Making sure you are communicating with your kids and they feel comfortable telling you things is key. Even the best kids probably won’t be sharing the fact that they are being mean on purpose or excluding someone or flat out bullying. Kids always want their parents approval.
What can you do to help prevent bullying?
- Model good behaviour. Often kids start bullying because that is what they see at home. Model coping skills when being bullied. Help your kids to know right from wrong and how to cope in situations where someone is being bullied in any way.
- Teach your kids the different forms of bullying and consequences of them. There is physical, emotional, social, discriminatory and cyber bullying. All of these can have sever consequences so make sure your kids are aware of them. Help them to recognize it in friends and what to do if they notice it.
- Post the Kids Help Phone number (In Canada, it is 1-800-668-6868) on your fridge and encourage your kids to have it in their phones. Anyone can call the Kids Help Phone. Parents can call and ask for ideas or help with bullying.
- Keep open communication with your kids. Let them know you want to know even if they think you won’t like it. Make sure your kids know that they must report if they or someone they know is being bullied or abused. Make sure they know to call 911 if someone is being physically harmed.
- Show your older kids and teens the Megan Meier story on YouTube. She was bullied and driven to suicide. Very interesting story and good starting point for discussion.
- Talk to the school. Set up meetings with the school if your child is being bullied. If there is no support within the school, go up to the school board or trustee.
- If your child is being cyber bullied, teach them not to respond but to save the messages and report them. Also block offenders in attempts to stop the cyber bullying. Teach your kids to always keep their password protected and ever to use their real name or send photos online.
Prevention is the best way to prevent bullying. If we all work to teach our children to be kind to others, we may end up with less Megan Meier tragedies. To learn more about her you can visit The Megan Meier Foundation.