It seems like almost everyday we hear about a new “anti-bullying campaign”, or “anti-bullying initiative”. The adults, often partnering with children nationally or in local communities are going to put an end to bullying. The aim is noble. No parent likes to hear that their child has been the victim of bullying. Victim being the key work. It makes sense that we as a society would stand up to put an end to bullying. Bureaucracies and procedures are set up in schools to ensure that any bullying can be quickly reported and dealt with. certainly with all of the public attention, energy, resources, and capital that has been devoted to stopping bullying, the issue has subsided; right?
Wrong. It doesn’t take a comprehensive study to figure out that bullying is as prevalent in schools, or in society as a whole, as it has ever been. Just look at the suicide statistics. In 2017 47,000+ people committed suicide in America. 1.4 million people attempted suicide. 2.4 of every 100 high school students in America have reported to attempted suicide. https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/ Worse, suicide rates are on the rise. The center for disease control reported that suicide rates increased in every state but one (Nevada) between 1999-2016. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2018/06/07/u-s-suicide-rates-rise-sharply-across-the-country-new-report-shows/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.8e4fc47a7e39
Bullying is in no way the only factor that has contributed to the ever increasing American suicide rates, but it can be argued that the way bullying is dealt with has contributed. Schools tell children that they should look to authority to protect them when they have been the victim of bullying. Again, I draw focus to the word victim.
Teaching children to report their bullies to authority has conditioned children not to directly confront and take responsibility for their troubles. It also fundamentally contradicts the way bullies in a school yard and bullies in life are deterred. Bullies are reported to schools but never confronted by their victims directly. The lesson learned by the bully is the victim is weak and will not defend themselves.
When a school or parent does not allow a child victim to confront their bully a permanent state of victimhood is created. Worse off, the bully is going to escalate. School punishment does not stop a bully. Confrontation does. The argument can be made that the school system along with over protective parents are the biggest enablers of bullying.
In the modern world continued bullying can be more psychological damaging than ever before. The internet has provided bullies 24-7 access to those in a permeant state of victim mentality. This has led to the rate of teen suicide perpetually rising.
Standing up to bullies has a profound life long impact. The ability to protect ones self, to confront authority in places of academics, business, and life in general. A person that confronts a bully in middle school is a person who will demand a raise at their job when they are 30.
Parents should encourage their children to confront bullies verbally, and physically when the time is appropriate. The lesson in confronting a bully is more helpful to a child than any school or parent intervention can ever be. Life will always produce more bullies and a child that confronts a bully in middle school is better prepared to confront whatever bullying the world has to offer.
The problem is confronting bullies is scary. It takes courage. As parents we can assist our children in overcoming these obstacles by instilling confidence in their ability to handle themselves. Young children should be encouraged to and signed up to learn MMA fighting. A child can start Brazilian jiu-jitsu as young as two years of age. Children should take Karate classes so they understand their ability to strike. The best part, anyone who has confronted a bully knows that confidence in your ability to handle yourself is the greatest deterrent. People don’t bully others who can and will defend themselves. This applies through all of life. One day your toddler will be 20 years old and at a bar with friends. Parents who know their child can handle themselves sleep better. Wrestling leagues start as early as third grade.
It does not stop with learning to fight. Children should be encouraged to play competitive sports such as soccer, baseball, and lacrosse . The combination of knowing how to fight and experience in physical competition provides a child the life long knowledge and confidence to protect themselves and empower themselves in any situation. (Keep them out of football, the idea is for them to be tough and confident, not have permanent brain damage to go along with those traits).
It is a parents responsibility to expose their children to violence. The key word here is parent. Notice none of the violence I mentioned involves violence in the house. A parent should never strike their child. That will be the topic of my next article.
-The Parent Guide
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