Many of us have heard about bullying in schools, but have you personally been involved as a parent?
Luckily, I have not had to experience bullying as the parent of a child. But recently I've had to ask myself what would I do if my child was a victim of bullying. Would I tell her to defend herself? Just tell the teacher? Try to be friends with the bully?
Since I am in the business of self defense, the answer should be easy, right? That's what I thought until I started talking to teachers and administrators. Did you know that even if your child is the victim, if they retaliate/defend, they also will be punished (suspended) and that it would go on their permanent record? Also if the incident didn't occur on school grounds, there's not much they can do. It then becomes a matter for the police.
So what advice should we give to our kids? It's a complicated question with many legal issues.
Our schools and teachers are there to teach. That is their job. They shouldn't have to be policing or be worried for their own safety (have you seen the size of some of these middle schoolers?). And do we really want police patrolling the schools?
We can begin by starting a dialogue with your school. Even if your child has not been a victim of bullying, ask what the school policy is for bullying. If it was your child, is the policy sufficient? Do the steps create a safe learning environment for your child? What can we do as parents to help?
There is one thing I know we can do now to help immediately.
Be nice. Treat others with respect.
Our children mimic our actions more than they listen to our words. (Ask anyone with a 2 year old. They will repeat everything you do and say).
If our kids see us treating others respectfully, they will do the same.
Try it out- for one day, be conscious of how respectful you are. To others and to yourself. Because bullying starts with insecurity and unhappiness.