Last week, I shared a story
with you about how I was bullied in school, and went on to discuss some of the negative outcomes
that can come from being bullied, which include suicide
After getting in-depth about the problem, today it is time to discuss the solution. Or rather, the solutions. There is no magic bullet for bullying. There is no panacea to make it stop tomorrow. If there were, we’d be all over it.
Instead, putting a stop to bullying calls for each and every one of us to make an effort, at least in a small way. From a global level, to your community and even in your own home, here are ten ways that you can help put a stop to the bullying epidemic:
- Donate to a group like PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center. Those dollars go directly into programs to curb bullying in communities nationwide. There are plenty of other organizations out there dedicated to the cause that could use your dollars, so choose whichever one you like.
- Volunteer for an organization that has a presence in your community. This is a great way for people who may not have the money to donate to still get involved. Programs like Beyond Bullies, Anchors of Hope and Buddies not Bullies are all great ways to get involved. Visit VolunteerMatch.org to search for opportunities in your area.
- Launch an event in your community. Whether it be a simple fundraiser like a bake sale, or a larger awareness-raising event like a run/walk, if you have the time and ambition, you have the ability to make an impact.
- Be a role model. Adults can be bullies, too, and kids emulate what they see from their adult mentors. The rule we were all taught in elementary school still applies in adulthood: treat others with respect, the way you want to be treated. Children will follow suit.
- Further the discussion. Bullying thrives on silence and ignorance. It will continue to exist as long as we ignore it and down play it. So, talk about bullying. Get it out in the open. Talk to other parents, to your children, to teachers. Read about it in the news. Comment on blogs about bullying (like mine! Or this one!) Just. Talk.
- Attend parent-teacher conferences. Most parents do this anyway because it’s just good policy, but it bears mentioning here. Talking to your child(ren)’s teachers gives you a handle on how they’re interacting in class and getting along with others. If they are being bullied — or bullying others, for that matter — you can get clues here.
- Involve your child(ren) in extracurricular activities. Sports, clubs and groups are important for strong social development in children. Not only do they build skills and look good on college applications, but they promote high self-esteem in children and help them make new friends. Both of those things can insulate and shield your child from bullying when it does happen, like when I described making armor in my bullying story.
- Talk to your kids about bullying. Teach them about why bullying is wrong. Have the conversation early and often. They need to hear from you about the reasons they should not bully others, and they need to know the stern consequences they will face if they ever do bully anyone. It is up to every parent to prevent their child from becoming a bully.
- Praise your child. I’ve spoken about the importance of praise before, and will again in an upcoming Behavior 101 piece, but it is always worth mentioning again. Children who are praised at home have higher levels of self-esteem, self-efficacy and self-worth, all of which make them less likely to feel the need to build themselves up by tearing others down.
- Listen to your kids. Pay attention to them. If I were making this list in top 10 format, this would be #1. Some parents, especially dads*, simply don’t pay enough attention to their children. Their may be signs that your children are being bullied that you wouldn’t notice if you don’t look for them. So talk to your kids. Ask them about their day. And listen to the response.
This list is not exhaustive. There are probably close to a hundred ways that you can join the fight. What’s important is not how you get involved, just that you do. Our kids are fighting this battle every day, and the least we can do is join them, because they cannot win on their own.
So do your part. Our children need you, and we need them later. In the words of Jim Morrison, “the time to hesitate is through.”
End bullying. Be brave.
What other things could you add to this list? What else can you do to make an impact?
*(I’m not trying to pick on dads. Many dads are great, but the empirical evidence shows that by and large, fathers are simply not spending enough time talking, listening and paying attention to their children.)(Image credit: Eddie~S’s flickr. Used under Creative Commons license.)