Recently, a friend shared that a family member was being bullied

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Rae Anthony

Recently, a friend shared that a family member was being bullied in a morning conversation and I immediately got into the “if it was my child” state of mind.After I calmed down I realized that sometimes, we are quick to respond to situations, without thinking of how our actions can affect others.

Sometimes when parents discover that their child is being bullied, they barge into their child’s school to threaten the bully and every teacher in sight, not realizing that they can make things worse. Some take matters into their own hands, even before speaking to their child at length, again, making a bad situation worse. It is important to question your child about the situation before making decisions that may affect him/her. Note that your child might insist that everything is okay, when truthfully, he/she is not.

Most of the times the signs are there; look out for them. Some children who were once outgoing, become reclusive; some are constantly angry and lash out at others for the simplest things; some suddenly join the wrong group of friends; some children’s tastes in music suddenly change—the signs are usually there.

After you’ve questioned your child, you can speak to the bully’s parents and/or head over to your child’s school to speak to the principal or teacher. Do not go in with the intention of wreaking havoc. Try the calm but firm approach. Listen to what the other individual has to say. If you have tried the calm approach more than once and you are ignored, then you can take serious measures. (Do NOT do anything illegal because you can’t help your child when you’re in jail.) Remember: your child will learn life lessons from you that they can pass on to their children. Teach your children how to resolve their issues without violence.

You can speak to the bully. Most times, this is every child’s nightmare and your child may even hate you as a result. Note that your role is to do what is best for your child and sometimes the decisions you make, unfortunately, will bring animosity. Do NOT approach the bully in a confrontational manner—you will most likely make the situation ten times worse.

If you’ve spoken to the parents, perhaps you can allow them to speak to their child and ask for a follow up shortly after. Maybe you don’t have to bring your child’s ‘worst nightmare’ to life after all. (If push comes to shove, however, do what you must.) What have the parents done about the situation? Has your child’s behaviour changed? Pay attention; one sign of change does not mean everything is okay (maybe the bully was just absent that day.)

Note that even when you follow the steps above, the bullying, possibly, will not stop. Ensure that you give your child tips on how to deal with the situation. (Even if they reject your ideas or play it off. Children listen even when you think they aren’t paying attention. Sometimes, they just want to appear as “cool” or “strong”.)

You can share your own encounter with a bully and how you dealt with the situation (or how you should have dealt with it) or you can share another individual’s story. Talk to your children. It will not always be easy to break down barriers but do your best.

To those who are being bullied: stay strong and listen to your parents; open up when they speak to you even if it’s not easy, because most times, they just want to help. You can also talk to a friend or teacher—do not carry the burden by yourself. Speaking up can make life so much easier for you. Also note that sometimes bullies are simply threatened by your talent or are envious of the things you have. Never stop being you (unless your behaviour is bad of course) just because someone else can’t handle your awesomeness!

Rae A.

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