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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but Names Also Hurt Me

on October 12, 2011

My nine-year-old daughter came home one day very upset that a student in her class was being teased, singled out, and made fun of every day in her classroom. She said that so many kids were being mean and she didn’t understand why. She really felt for the targeted boy but didn’t know how to help. She worried that if she stood up for him that she would then also become a target.

This began an important discussion about bullying in schools and how it’s not just the problem of the victim and bully but the responsibility of each individual to do something about it. Bullying behavior is wrong and should not be tolerated. Children need to learn how to manage these dangerous situations from whatever position they are in. Victims and witnesses need to band together and stand up for the right of every individual child to be treated with respect and dignity.

Here are some tips for those who encounter a bully, whether first hand or not:

1. Always stay in supportive groups when approaching bullies.

2. Look a bully in the eye and talk firmly and confidently. Say “Stop that! Back off!”

3. Talk loudly so the entire school (especially an adult) can hear you.

4. Involve an adult directly or write an anonymous factual note to an adult.

5. Be prepared to defend yourself if necessary.

6. Be open to befriending a reformed bully once they change their behavior.

It’s not a fun topic but one that needs to be addressed. Let’s all keep the perspective that bullying behavior should not be tolerated and that it’s important to stand up for ourselves and other innocent children being harrassed. In the end, of course, our hope is for a reformed bully but in the meantime, every child needs to learn how to manage any current volatile situations. Let’s continue discussions with our children and with each other.




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