1. Bullying is a new or more prevalent phenomenon

Bullying has been around as long as humans have. Think about the movie “Back to the Future” or “Karate Kid” (the original). These were issues when we were younger. It simply seems like it is worse now because more people are talking about it. (There is one way it is in fact worse – cyber bullying. We never had that as kids)

2. Kids are the only ones suffering from Bullying

I don’t know why the conversation for bullying is limited to kids. Perhaps adults don’t want to admit they get bullied?  Many adults bully others in the workplace.  Many spouses bully their partner at home. I have also seen plenty of customers bullying employees. It’s not just in schools… it’s pretty much everywhere.

3. Bullies are confident

Ummmm no.  They are stupid.  I actually mean stupid… unintelligent… morons. They are not playing with a full deck. It is why they pick on others. It is all they have. They are insecure little ninnies that are out to get attention the only way they know how. Even worse are the kids who hang out on the outskirts of the “mob” feeding off the power trip they are getting because they are not on the receiving end of the bullying.

But it gets worse:

These idiots come from a poor (not income – think quality) gene pool. Therefore, their parents are also idiots and chances are that simple parenting skills are not being applied at home. No boundaries set and no positive reinforcement. And worst of all, no attention paid which is what every kid wants.

4. Bullies are underprivileged 

For some reason, we think that bullies are in a certain social class.  There is this assumption that the wealthier a person is, the smarter they are and more well behaved. I have actually found the opposite to be true but we’ll save that for another post.

So, given these dingbat, mean kids might be driving a BMW to high school or are in the latest hollister clothing has no bearing on their social behavior. Rich kids and adults can be mean too.

5. Some kids are just mean

While this is true…  the reason may be different than what you think.

Bully is a learned behavior.  Kids are mostly stimulus response and learn through modelling the behavior of others. One of their main ways of learning is mimicking or pretending to be like what they see.

A perfect example is a professional athlete. When I was a kid, I played a lot of tennis and Andre Agassi had just come one the scene.  Guess what shirts every kid wanted?  What tennis racquet?  What sneakers? Not to mention that he went totally against the grain when it came to tennis “etiquette”.

So, if a child is bullying another child, it is not necessarily because he is a bad kid. It simply means that he is seeing that behavior in his environment and acting it out in his own. Hence, we get back to the poor gene pool.

If a child sees his Dad bullying an employee at a store (think yelling and screaming) how is he likely to act towards peers and teachers?  If he sees his mother driving the car and negatively commenting on how everyone else drives, what is he learning?  Finally, if a parent decides that the best way to discipline a child is by yelling or hitting them, how does that child learn to solve its problems?  By yelling and hitting.

6. Bullying is only physical

Actually, the physical thing has been fairly well handled.  It is also easy to distinguish – you see one kid or person hitting another.

What is harder to handle is emotional bullying.  We don’t really have a context or a way of appropriately dealing with emotional bullying.  If someone hits you, you could hit them back.  That is fairly standard.  But if someone is mean to you – yet doesn’t touch you – what do you do?

This is the biggest challenge facing people being bullied.  There is no social norm they can call upon to handle that situation.  Crying, while appropriate, doesn’t work.  Asking them to stop, doesn’t work.  Being mean back doesn’t work.  So what do you do?

The best thing that I have found is social pressure.  Get the people around you to show the bully how wrong he is for picking on other people.  Yet, going it alone doesn’t work. 

7. Kids need to learn to stop bullying each other

No…  parents need to learn how to parent.  In a recent article written in The New Yorker, it speaks to why adults are currently the biggest problem with the misbehavior of kids.  While not referring to bulling specifically, it eludes to how proper boundaries regarding behavior are not being set.

I really wish parents would focus on the job of raising kids and not mettle where they don’t belong. This idea that everyone must win and that all kids are equal in all areas… its nonsense and its all to “protect” the poor little kid’s precious, vulnerable, delicate self esteem.

Give it a rest.  Parents have a big enough problem getting their kids to follow simple directions like “tie your shoes”…  and then they want to turn around and tell people how “special” their kid is? 

MY three kids aren’t that special.  They are special to ME and my wife but that’s about as far as it goes.  As a matter of fact, they are quite ordinary and that is just fine.  Now, they are unique in a couple of ways – they might prefer math over english – but other than that, they are normal, run-of-the-mill kids.

Stop trying to tell everyone how special your kid is.  It is like sitting next to that mom with the “brag book”…  you know the one…  with all the pictures in it…  or on their phone.  Are you really interested or being polite?

What does this have to do with bullying?

Kids are built to figure out the food chain on their own. They are meant to figure out which kids are physically stronger and which are weaker. Which are mentally stronger and which are weaker. Which are smarter and which are not.

Nature has taken care of that whole process already. When parents or adults try to get in there and make everything equal, make sure everyone wins, and make sure little Johnny’s self esteem doesn’t get tested…  we have the situation we’ve got.  Kids can’t figure this stuff out in the normal ways and so they bully each other. 

Oh yea… and here is my vote to bring dodgeball back. We learned a lot in that game plus IT’S FUN!

8. There is this oasis somewhere where Bullying doesn’t happen

I would really like to know where this oasis is that all these adults keep talking about – where no one is ever bullied and it is sunny and 70 degrees all day. I haven’t seen it… only heard of it.

Many adults are expressing their wish or want.  We ALL want bullying to go away.  No doubt.  But the fact of the matter is that as much as we want it to stop, it is still here and doesn’t look like its going anywhere.

Adults can’t keep themselves from getting bullied yet they think they can have kids do it, or control kid’s environments in such a way that it doesn’t happen? Has anyone noticed that all the adults are simply making the problem worse?

Here is my biggest defense against bullying…  AND IT WORKS…  has 3 out of 3…

What I want my kids to know:

“Son/Daughter… there are mean people in the world. And when you come across one, there are a few things that you want to know. First, if they are being mean to you… it means that you are smarter than them; therefore, if you try to be mean back, you are fighting their fight and you will lose. Fight your fight and avoid these people the best you can.  Be smarter than them.

Second, you can do something about it if you want – like if one of your friends is being picked on – but you don’t have to. There are some things your friends need to figure out on their own. But, if you want to do something about it… don’t go it alone. Get other kids together before approaching this mean kid. If no one else will go with you, then run and find an adult. That will be better for your friend than you trying to get involved.

Next, you always have someone to talk to. I will always be here for you. Whatever it is you can tell me. Day or night… it doesn’t matter. I promise I won’t make you feel bad because adults know that when someone is mean to you, it stinks. It’s embarrassing and no one really wants to admit that it is going on. Mostly, we simply wish it would go away.

If it gets to be too much and you can’t take it anymore… you tell me. Daddy will take care of it.

Finally, no one puts a hand on you without your permission. If someone goes to touch you or grab you, you knock their hands away. If someone hits you, you fight back hard and strong until someone comes to help you or you get a chance to run and get help. Then you tell me and Daddy will handle the rest. As long as you don’t throw the first punch, you will never get in trouble with me.”

Now put that kid in school or a social environment. They will be as confident as could be and you will have moved them up on the food chain to where no one will pick on them.

I have three kids that are living proof. 

As adults, lets handle this by getting out of the way instead of creating an environment for our kids that promotes this sort of behavior.

Bullying Resources:

National Bullying Prevention Center
California Department of Education
KidsHealth.org
WebMD
ViolencePreventionWorks.com