Posts Tagged ‘no name-calling week’

Bullying

Posted: January 23, 2012 in Uncategorized
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Brace yourselves…my blog post today is about neither books nor travel.  It’s about bullying.  Far too many really good kids I know are getting beaten down and bullied and the schools are not getting a handle on it.  Zero tolerance policy is a fallacy.  But I don’t blame the schools entirely.  Mostly, I blame the parents.  I don’t generally like to play the blame game, and feel free to shout me down, but whatever else you do, let’s discuss.

When I was a kid, we tended to think of bullies as kids who were bullied themselves and passed it along to others.  What I actually see behind most of the bullies are parents who make excuses for their kids, don’t rein them in or even pay much attention to what they’re doing, don’t draw boundaries or create consequences. From here I see two divergent things: those parents who immediately deal with their kids when they realize what’s going on, in which case the behavior is often nipped in the bud, and those who don’t, in which case it isn’t.  Many of the former and even some the latter are good people, some so nice you hate to bring things up and hurt feelings; you wonder how their kids’ behavior ever became an issue.  But silence doesn’t solve the problem.

The kids who are an ongoing threat are often those whose parents when confronted with their child’s behavior tell the person talking that they must be mistaken.  In some cases, they go a step farther.  Since their child would never do such a thing; yours must be a liar…or an instigator.  Yes, let’s blame the victims.  If by some miracle, they’re convinced there’s some fault, their reaction is not determination to get to the root of things or teach tolerance and empathy or offer up concrete consequences, but to give the kid a slap on the wrist and maybe take away video games for a night.  Really?  Children are getting emotionally scarred, some to the point where they’d rather not face another day, and you’re taking away video games?  I’m not saying one serious punishment will change the behavior.  Not at all.  But awareness, interaction, teaching tolerance and conversing with your kids might make a difference.  I’m talking about not spouting vitriol that the kids might adopt or creating an environment in which anything goes.  About not being blind to your child’s faults or creating such a buffer to protect them from the consequences of their actions that they never feel there are any.

Last week I heard that there were kids up at our lodge throwing stones, damaging cars and a five year old girl.  I wish I could say this surprised me.  A few weeks before Christmas (or maybe a bit more), two boys in our neighborhood were out shooting bb guns…at my son.  When a mother came to collect them and Ty told her what had happened, she said she’d deal with it.  However, based on the fact that her boys are constant problems in the neighborhood, I don’t have any faith in the response.  Ty likes to handle things on his own.  If he’d called me when it happened, I’d have called the police.  I told the kids exactly that the next time I saw them, but I doubt it will stop them from attacking the next kid.  In fact, I don’t think they’re going to stop or their mother will have her blinders knocked askew until the police actually come knocking at her door.  Even then….

I found out about No Name-Calling Week when Rob Neufeld did a piece on it and the DEAR BULLY anthology to which I contributed in this weekend’s Asheville Citizen-Times.  The No Name-Calling Week website has planning kits and some great resources for parents, teachers and students.  I encourage people to check it out.

I do wish, though, that we had all the answers.  I wish we could reach the parents who really need to be reached and that we could truly stop bullying before it happens and not just deal with the aftermath.  Please, please, if anyone has further ideas, resources, links, I’d love to hear them and to help spread the word.