Mid-September 2013 twelve-year-old Rebecca Ann Sedwick committed suicide due to a year’s worth of bullying and taunting. Sadly her story is not unique…boys and girls alike have ended their young lives due to the unbearable pain of repeated abuse.
The bullies of today are not the big, mean, bad boys of yesterday. Bullies now travel in groups. Bullies are female as well as male. Bullies are hiding behind their computers.
Fighting back sounds like a good idea when you are talking a one-on-one, face-to-face situation but what does a child do when the bully comes in a group or is on a screen?
Moms and dads, we need to make sure our kids feel safe to talk with us about their social and emotional issues (see Becky’s blog on how to get the conversation started). Communication that includes understanding and empathy is the place to start.
This past fall a Utah coach took a stand against bullying. It came to his attention that some of his football players were involved in cyber-bullying and other disrespectful behaviors. He suspended 80 of his players! The students were not able to rejoin the team until they had fixed what they had broken.
Good. For. Him.
Taking a stand, training kids to be empathetic and teaching them how to deal effectively with anger are all proactive ways to prevent bully-type behavior.
Teach your kids how not to be a victim by role playing assertiveness in the middle of conflict. (Non-threatening eye contact, hands not in pockets, arms by side not folded). This will give them a strategy to use if they are targeted.
Give the child an exit line, “I’m not going to stand here while you tease me.”
This will give the child a feeling of having some power.
Encourage your child to have an Internet fast until things settle down. (Lead him in this direction. He will be more likely to avoid screen time if it is his idea.) Keep all electronic devices in a main family area.
There is no easy solution. Each case is different. Talk with your child how you can best support him. And most of all…pray. Pray for your child, pray for wisdom, and pray for that…yep… bully.
Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men.
What ideas do you have to support your child when he has become a victim of bullying?
By Lori Wildenberg
Wife to Tom, Mom of four
Co-founder of 1 Corinthians 13 Parenting