The Block Island Times

Rhymes to Reason: Facing bullies

Feb 03, 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt once said: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you can not do.”

After years of experience and conversations with teachers and psychologists, I’ve come to the opinion that bullying is the hottest subject in schools. It is not only an issue for children; adults must address it too.

- Do you know a bully?

- Are you a bully?

- Are your children bullies?

I’m sure all of you have known a bully in your childhood or adult life. The Webster Dictionary gives us this definition of a bully:

1. One who is habitually cruel to others weaker than himself.

2. Treating someone abusively, physically and or emotionally.

3. To intimidate with superior size or strength.

A well-known Massachusetts psychologist (forensic), Dr. Ira Silverman, said: “A bully is someone with possible aggressive behavior and as a child it could be genetic, or come from having a role model — possibly a parent, relative, or friend of the family. Sometimes a bully represents, in a child’s eye, a strong figure to emulate.”

Dr. Silverman added that “if aggressive behavior is channeled into a positive outlet, such as sports or other physical activity, it can be quite helpful for the child.”

We want our children to gain appreciation for themselves and others, to learn a lesson of regret and accountability. Expressing regret for inappropriate words and actions helps kids experience the fact that they are truly accountable for hurting someone, physically or emotionally.

As a child, most of us were told to “face down the bully in the school yard.” Facing down a bully would show the bully you will not be intimidated. I think teaching a child not to be afraid of anyone is a parent’s, responsibility but in a school situation, peer pressure on the bully seems to work.

Teaching a child (or adult, for that matter) to recognize a bully when he or she sees one is an important tool for anyone. Some questions you can ask your child is:

- Did the child make you feel bad or angry?

- Did they know they were hurting you?

- Have they done it more than once?

- Did they threaten you?

Keep an eye on the problem and see your child’s environment is properly supervised. Empower your child to recognize and avoid the bully. Involve them in other activities and remove them from the area of the bully’s influence.

More about bullying next month. ‘Till the next time…

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