For awhile the topic of bullying seemed to be the latest thing. Everyone knew someone who had been or was being bullied. The speakers themselves had personal stories to share and every school was sending home flyers about zero tolerance. Then it seemed to slow down a bit and now I hear very little about it. Good thing we have Bullying Awareness Week to bring it back into focus.
I have heard many adults say they survived being taunted and teased in school and they turned out fine, so maybe we should just let things be. Let kids be kids and let them work out problems on their own. I do think that in this age of the Helicopter Parent (defined as: a parent who takes an overprotective or excessive interest in the life of their child or children) we tend to hover over our kids just a bit too much; however, when it comes to violence you can never hover too much. Even though, way back in the 20th Century it seemed like kids were taking care of business themselves, I guarantee they had a watchful parent, waiting in the shadows, ready to pounce if their cubs needed them.
Bullying Awareness Week is back again and none too soon. I have talked at length before about seeing my child be bullied and the affects it had on her. It was heartbreaking, but it called us to action. My husband and I did what we were supposed to do and contacted the school first. Things seem to be going along really well and the past year has been a little more tranquil. But recently that changed. Along with that change came the reluctance of my child to share how she was feeling and who may be behind it. I find we are once again thrown into this craziness where we have to go through a process to see what has happened and how we can fix it. It really makes me want to scream! It really makes me want to shout, “What the heck is wrong with kids today? Why are they so mean to one another?“
The answers to those questions will vary, but there is one constant: the presence of social media. This is somewhat hard for me to say as a person who is a social media influencer, but yes, I do think that social media has changed the playing field for kids these days and not for the better. In years past a couple of kids may have a disagreement at school, but by the next day it was forgotten. Fast forward to the 21st Century and that disagreement will be hashed out on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter before dinner time. Then other children chime in with their opinions and they start to pick sides. A small disagreement can turn into an all out war in a matter of hours. With social media we are almost powerless to stop it. Almost…
Over the next week schools will make an effort to talk about bullying and the affects it has on kids. Hopefully the effort is enough, but we really have to take a long hard look at the freedoms our kids have nowadays and see what can be fixed. My children do not have accounts on Facebook or Twitter, but it is not that hard to take a look around these sites if one is inclined. The one social media site my daughter does use is monitored very closely by my husband and I and it will stay that way for a very long time. There is just too much at stake to approach it any differently. The other thing we do is keep the lines of communication open. My daughter knows she can come to us about anything and we emphasize this every chance we get. I am realistic enough to know that this will change over time, but optimistic enough to hope we can grow with it and not against it.
Do yourself and your children a favour this week and start talking. Ask them about the other kids at school and what they do when they have a disagreement. Talk to them about online safety. Stress to your children the importance of being open and honest. Bullying is a tough thing to go through, let alone overcome. Being aware of it and what your kids can do to help you help them will go a long way in keeping your children safe.
Do you have any tips to share for Bullying Awareness Week?