There has been a lot of 'talk' about bullying lately and I want to share once again what the definition of bullying actually is.
Bullying is a serious behaviour that has three key features - all three MUST be present for the situation to be considered bullying: - power imbalance between the victim and offender. This can be an actual imbalance or perceived (age, physical stature, social stature etc.) - Intention is to harm, shame or embarrass the victim - Repetition. These actions can not be a 'one-off'.
All mean incidents MUST be addressed but the reason why bullying must be treated differently is because bullying is not an accident, a mistake, 'kids being kids' or a right of passage. Something is terribly wrong in the life of the offender and it must be addressed. Bullying is a behaviour and the offender needs help to correct this as well.
Bullying does not happen overnight. One of the most critical points to bullying is the REPETITION. What this means is that someone isn't a victim of bullying because of a single incident or something that happened overnight. It would have been happening for a lengthy period of time. I point this out because of what this means when a youth comes forward to share. Bullying could have been prevented when it was a 'one-off' incident such as being called a bad name or negative post on the internet. This is why it is so important to treat every negative incident immediately BEFORE it becomes repetitive.
Bullying does not start and end in the school yard (or workplace). It typically starts at home. Before expecting others to 'fix' the problem, ask what you can do to assist first.
Are you teaching your children that one race is better than another? Do you speak negatively about the LGBTQ2S community? Are you teaching your children words that are totally unacceptable in todays day in age? Are you teaching your children that it is okay to be cruel to another and that you will 'protect' them if anyone complains? Are you posting total garbage and fake stories on the internet?
If you are doing any of these, and the list could go on forever, then you know where the bullying behaviour (ignorance, intolerance) is coming from! Your children idolize you, they want to be just like you and they are WATCHING you.
On the preventative side, are you sporadically checking your Child's phone to see what they are saying, what others are saying to them, how they interact in a group conversation, the photos they possess or their internet search activity? If you are, GREAT! If you aren't....WHY NOT? There is nothing bad that can come of doing this until trust is earned. This is not an invasion of privacy. This is being a parent. IF you did check your Child's phone you would see all of the above and be able to identify when something isn't right and be able to act longgggg before 'bullying' could ever take place.
Think of this, if you were to talk into a room and find your child looking at a XXX magazine, what would you do? Now with that reaction in mind, you do realize they are looking at a lot more than photos on the internet right?! Yes, even YOUR child is! So because adults aren't having the conversations around appropriate relations, children are left to believe that what they saw in that video is the reality of what a 'healthy relationship' is.
We all have a role to play to help our youth become the very best that they can be. This means having those conversations that are awkward and difficult. We need to talk about healthy relationships, mental wellness and how everyone is different.
For more information on bullying and what YOU can do to help prevent it, please visit www.bullyingendshere.ca and help us to make sure that Bullying Ends Here.