Recent media attention on child and youth bullying incidents not just in New York but in other parts of the United States are bringing an important matter to public awareness. How should children be protected from bullying and taught to deal with it when it happens to them? Here are some tips from experts.
Do stay connected
Teach kids to focus on meaningful social connections and interactions. Bullies work by making their victims feel alone and hapless, so children should get their power back by maintaining connections with their friends and supportive adults.
Don’t second-guess the child if they tell you they’re experiencing it
Instead, listen carefully and convey that you believe the child. Tell them you’re sorry for what’s happening, and commit to helping solve the problem when they’re ready to get to this step. It’s crucial that a bullied child gets heard and understood – and they feel they are.
Do create awareness
Bullies typically inflict harm and violence in a subtle and seemingly socially acceptable way that tends not to register on the adults’ radar. It is therefore important to teach kids to create awareness, and that speaking up about bullying isn’t cowardice but making a powerful decision.
Don’t let kids over-label mean behaviors as ‘bullying’
It’s the “little boy who cried wolf” phenomenon where adults no longer take action at times, leaving truly vulnerable children at risk and lacking the support they need.
Do use simple, unemotional language
Have the child use direct, simple, and unemotional language to let bullies know that they cannot be victimized. Being emotionally affected by someone is being under their power, so encourage the bullied child to respond without anger or fear, and to portray utmost confidence.