I recently discovered my 5-year-old was being bullied at summer school. Mind you, he is attending school for the first time and is already experiencing bullying. The culprit is another boy who is the same age as my son, 5. While I don’t know why this child is bullying my son, I do believe it is a learned behavior. No child is born a bully; they are made to be a bully. Children are born inherently kind and it is our job to insure they grow up respecting the need for kindness. With that being said, I am woefully disheartened by the knowledge of a child so young behaving in such a way.
I am the type of parent who wants to protect their child in every way possible, yet I understand the need for his ability to make good choices and stand up for himself. It’s a fine line; one which I try very hard not to cross. I spend a lot of time discussing with my son the difficulties of society, without jading him or giving him too much information. I like to let him come to me with his questions and answer them within a reasonable dialog which will make sense to him. Of course, there are many times I approach him with questions, but I always try to keep from planting worries in his head. Like I said, it’s a fine line.
Back to the situation of his being bullied… We were sitting down for breakfast the other morning where nothing special happening – we were both very tired and not talking much – and he very simply stated there was a boy who was being mean to him at school. My ears perked up and I asked him what he meant. He stated the boy would say mean things to him and make mean faces at him. My son was very sad while telling me this, saying he didn’t know why the boy didn’t like him and he just wanted to be friends with him. I asked him what he does when the boy is mean to him and he said he just tries to go play with other kids. Unfortunately, that statement was followed with, “but he follows me and is mean to me.” Needless to say, I was not happy to hear about this. I alerted his teacher to the issue when I dropped him off
Needless to say, I was not happy to hear about this. I alerted his teacher to the issue when I dropped him off at school, and inquired about the school’s bullying policy with the office staff hopeful we could all join together and squash the problem before it became too big of an issue. The school staff was extremely receptive and worked with me to ensure the bullying wouldn’t continue. This is a battle I wanted to fight with my son rather than step aside and let it run its’ course. There are too many variables to not address it immediately.
According to the National Center for Educational Statistics 2015 study, “One out of every 4 students (22%) report being bullied during the school year.” That number may need to sink in… it did with me. Let’s do the math… say a school has 600 students, 1 in 4, or 22% of them have been bullied. That means approximately 130-150 kids are dealing with something most of them do not know how to cope with. Even more disturbing, NCES discovered that of the 22% who reported their subjection to bullying, 6% suffer from physical abuse from their peers.
Bullying doesn’t just stop there, either. NCES goes on to explain that of students aged 12 to 18, 14% of them experience cyberbullying. With such easy access to the internet, social media portals, and other electronic communication, our children’s likeliness of suffering from bullying increases dramatically.
Bullying is no joke. Children who are bullied can suffer from sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and may have trouble adapting to their school environments, says The Center for Disease Control. The CDC also reports that children who bully are more likely to display academic problems, substance abuse and are at a greater risk for carrying out violent acts throughout childhood and into adulthood. These are all terrible realizations, especially when considering how many students do not speak up about their experiences with bullying.
Learn more from the National Center of Educational Statistics https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=719, http://www.pacer.org/bullying/about/media-kit/stats.asp, and from the Center for Disease Control http://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying_factsheet.pdf.
Sadly, bullying is a large part of our society and we have a long way to go in order to stamp it out from our day-to-day lives and the lives of our children. There is something to be said about the way we parent and how closely we watch our children’s behavior and attitude toward others. We can make a difference – one which will be realized in our children’s lifetimes if we understand, as parents, it is our job to teach our children tolerance and acceptance of other’s differences. We have everything we need to change the culture of bullying from one which dictates so many of our children’s lives to something they won’t have to experience. With so many outside forces infiltrating our daily lives, we all need to get on board with the program of acceptance.
Let’s make a change!
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