Bullying and Labels

There’s been a lot of talk about bullying in the media recently. Multiple reports have come out indicating that bullying is on the rise. What exactly is bullying? There’s cyber bullying, emotional bullying, physical bullying and the list goes on… when discussing bullying a distinction is always made between the bully (the bad/mean one) and the victim (the nice/mistreated one).

The world our children live in today is very different than the one we grew up in. The dangers are very real and more frequent. The word “bully” makes us think of the possible real dangers in our children’s world. I do not want to make light of real bullying issues. There have been some very dangerous situations that have caused irreparable damage and even cost the life of some of its victims. All the more reason why this term should not be used so lightly.

The word is being used more and more frequently with a strong negative connotation. Many things that are not really bullying get lumped in together. There are many times where the infractions labeled as “bullying” are instances where children are simply being mean toward one another by way of excluding, name calling ect…

The playground and school hallways are places where children can learn how to handle conflict in constructive ways. It does not benefit a child who teases others or who has impulse issues to be labeled a bully. This has a negative connotation and can lead to increased negative behavior. On the other side of the coin, it does not benefit a child who does not assert themselves or takes everything personally to be labeled a victim. This too can cause irreparable damage and crutch them from being a healthy, emotionally well rounded person. Labeling children creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. They will inevitable live up to their label whether good or bad.

Education begins in the home. Children must learn how to interact with different types of personalities and how to cope in a variety of situations. We cannot cushion them from learning how to navigate difficult personalities on their own. As parents we must teach our children how to cope, assert themselves and have self-respect.

You Can Spot a Future Bully at Age 1, Research Shows” Article from Huffington Post, that labels toddlers as potential bullies- read for yourself and see how this label has been so easily thrown around. Instead of labeling these children bullies, education should have been offered to the parents as to how to navigate their own anger problems. Children mirror what they see. As parents we teach our children how to navigate anger and aggression.

I think about the news story that recently came out about a father who allowed his son and another teenage boy to fight at his house so that the fight would be “fair”. When his son walked away the father took it upon himself to finish the fight. His own son tried to stop him when he continued to pummel the other boy. Those images will forever be ingrained in the mind of his son, and today the father sits in a jail….very disturbing.

There is also a website that we have been discussing bullies2buddies. I recommend it to parents. It gives valuable insight and practical ways to help your children if they are involved in a bully situation.