Bullying and Bullycide: The Missing Link

I’m deeply saddened and disturbed by the increase in juvenile suicides that are a result of bullying or ongoing stpeteselfdefense.bullypiccyber-bullying. How sad it is that these children with the best years of their lives left, sometimes choose to end their lives because life became too painful and they couldn’t see that it would get better. My heart goes out to them and to their families.

Bullying today, is much more than one kid picking on the other and getting into fist fights.  Some of the most harmful bullying can come via nasty rumors and threats publicly posted on social media sites like Facebook where multiple people chime-in and gang-up on one person.  Video sites including Youtube and photo sharing sites like Instagram or Snapshot can also provide a social platform to publicly bully and humiliate someone by posting embarrassing videos or unauthorized photos that are then commented on.  In addition bullying can also take place electronically through emails, text messaging, IM (instant messaging) and even video chat on smart phones.

It’s hard enough to deal with being bullied face-to-face, but to also receive threatening or derogatory messages on a cell phone, or in front of a social media audience can make the victim feel like they can’t escape or get away from the attack or the negativity. Think about it…when you’re a child or a teen, the majority of your world is made-up of school and your friends. When a group of peers/friends turns on you, it’s easy to understand how it could feel as if everyone hates you, even though that’s not the case.

There are a lot of great websites with helpful information and even support groups on Facebook that can help kids who are being bullied by providing positive support. You can find them through a simple Google search or by using Facebook and searching “Bully.”

My favorite site that’s helpful to both parents, educators and kids is the one listed below.

http://www.pacer.org/bullying/sites-for-teens-and-kids.asp

The site above has additional areas specific for teens and kids on bullying and being bullied.

I think it’s very important for our schools to continue to educate students and create programs to teach kids that bullying is harmful and what to do if you see someone being bullied or if you are bullied, I think there is a missing link. Most of the programs I’ve researched, cover prevention, what to do if you see someone being bullied, and what to do if you are bullied, but they don’t take it a step further and talk about the importance of having a strong, positive self-esteem.

The missing link is self-love and esteem. I believe it’s very important to help kids learn when they are very young that what you think of, you become; and what you think of yourself, is the most important thing, not what others think or say.  A great gift we can give our kids is to help them learn to be confident with who they are, assertive, have good self-esteem/self worth and to teach them that just because someone else says it, does NOT make it true.

Kids need to get this message repeated over and over again, to help them deal with the difficult people that they will encounter in life. It’s not a guaranteed solution, but it can only help.

In addition to self-love and confidence, it’s helpful to teach kids how bullies operate. They need to understand that bullies usually go after kids that seem passive and lack confidence and will test them by picking on them to see how they respond. If the bully gets the reaction they wanted or attention from others, it gives them encouragement to continue. Kids need to not let in the negative and to understand, although not easy, that the bully is the one with an issue.

To take it a step further, parents can teach their children what bullying is, why it’s not good and how to respond if they are picked on or see someone being picked on as we do in our role playing portion of our Prevent Bullying seminars and parties.

After we discuss what bullying is, how to recognize it, we practice using assertive body language and tone of voice to practice standing-up for ourselves. Role playing and doing “what if”scenarios can help kids know what to do if they are picked-on and when practiced in a playful manner can help instill a sense of confidence, rather than helplessness.

I’d like to share that had I learned how bullies choose their targets and how to stand-up to them before I went to middle school-life would have been easier. I was one of the kids who was bullied at my bus stop, on my bus, followed to my classes, threatened, harassed in my own neighborhood and dreaded going to school for fear of seeing the group of kids targeting me. Several weeks, felt like several years and I was almost sick to my stomach with fear. I too could have been a bullycide statistic if it wasn’t for an adult who overheard something going on and stepped in to find out what it was and helped stop it.

Do you have more ideas about how to prevent kids from being bullied and being able to stand-up for themselves? Tell us, we’d love to hear from you.

If you’d like to get information on our Stop Bullies FAST program, please click here. 

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