We talk a lot about how to get our children to stand up against bullies, but the conversation needs to start with parents. There are times that you notice bullying and do nothing: bullying on the playground, bullying at the bus stop, bullying on your street in your own neighborhood. Sometimes these are kids you know; other times they are strangers. How should we respond to the bullying we see around us, especially if our children are watching our every move?
"I was driving toward the school to pick up my stepdaughter when I saw this group of kids start to beat up on another boy on the other side of the road," Carrie remembers. "Recently, I'd watched a news special report about how the public responds to acts of violence with kids they don't know, so it was fresh in my mind.
"I immediately pulled over and began to yell at the kids to stop. I said, 'Do I need to call the police?' They just looked at me silent and dumbfounded. I repeated, 'Do I need to call the police? I expect an answer from you right now.'
"Finally, they said they understood. Then I told them, 'You cannot hit other kids!' I was amazed at my reaction to defend a child I didn't even know. My adrenaline was flowing and I was shaking by the time my stepdaughter got into the car. When I told her what happened, she couldn't believe I'd do that for a stranger. I truly believe she gained assurance from the fact that I could stand up for a kid I didn't know."
Good coaches can demonstrate the skills they want to instill in their players. It's hard to take a baseball coach seriously if he can't hit the ball himself. Let your kids see how you approach advocacy, so that they know how it's done.
If your child is experiencing bullying, this is a "high stakes" situation and requires immediate action. This is one of those times when rushing in is the best idea. If you are unsure as to your rights or the rights of your child, check out Harassment at School.
According to experts in family law, bullying is:
- Sexual harassment of another student
- Teasing and excluding
- Calling names
- Physically pushing or otherwise attacking
- Threatening or hazing
- Damaging or stealing belongings
- Demanding money
For more information about instilling leadership skills in your child, check out Giving Your Child the Excellence Edge.
For more about bullying for kids, check out Kids Against Bullying.