Not surprising, the bullying story hasn’t faded away. Parents and educators are seeking answers on why bullying seems to be on the increase and what are the appropriate means to respond. Schools have adopted strict anti-bullying policies yet there is no certainty that they are effective. This is particularly the case with cyber bullying – texting, social media – where determining jurisdiction is difficult when schools try to distinguish between private speech and getting involved because of the negative impact on a student. Last week’s guest, bullying expert Izzy Kalman, provided evidence that the increase in anti-bullying policies might, as an unintended consequence, actually have contributed to the rise in bullying. His rationale: more attention creates more problems. By over using the term bullying instead of labeling incidents as assault or extortion we are not providing our kids with the tools to combat social interactions that are unpleasant but do not rise to the level of a crime. Our discussion will offer concrete suggestions for schools to deal compassionately with students who are stressed by name calling and social exclusion without having to feed the counterproductive anti-bullying frenzy. Furthermore, schools need to find better ways to deal with the perpetrators than merely exclusion. Parents play an important role in helping their children respond to bullying. Utilizing suggestions from our Family Centered Parenting program, parents can learn to prepare their children through role playing on the best strategies to confront the bully. We also ask parents to take a hard look at their own behavior to make sure that they are not thoughtlessly sending messages to their children that show a lack of empathy and a desire to win at any cost – the traits of a bully. Finally, listen to our own stories of how we dealt with bullying during our childhoods.
Listen to this practical discussion on understanding the issues surrounding bullying and what parents can do to support their children.