These are some things that I think people need to realize shouldn’t be assumed. I was bullied from 4th grade to high school with varying levels of severity. I’ve gotten over most of the emotional toll, but I still have remnants even after decades have passed. Bullying isn’t a normal part of childhood, even tho the bullied thinks it is. This is written to a parent, but it applies to anyone who is around children/teens to some extent.
- Don’t assume your kid knows difference between bullying and normal joking teasing (both sides give & take), teach them if it’s only fun for one person it’s wrong.
- Don’t assume they’ll tell you if they are being bullied. My mom found out some of it when I was an adult and some she’ll never know.
- Don’t assume bullies know they’re bullies. I’m certain that the teenage girls who picked me up to throw into a body of water thought it was just joking. Until I bit the nearest arm in self-defense.
- Don’t assume telling school will solve it, many times that puts a bigger target on the kid. “tattle-tale” etc. so be prepared to go big. (If a child is assaulted even by another child, then you should speak to local authorities/police about what can be done.)
- Don’t assume your kid will stop another kid from being bullied, peer pressure is very real. Teach them it is OK to speak up or get a teacher or to tell you afterwords (if it’s not safe to speak up). Teach them “silence is consent” – if they stay silent, they’re basically telling the bully (& victim) it is Ok. Some bullies will genuinely believe that someone would have stopped them if what they were doing was “that bad.”
- If your kid confides in you about another kid being bullied, don’t assume the victim’s parents know. tell them & the school – perhaps in writing.
- Don’t assume your child will tell you if your other child is being bullied. 3 of my siblings (2 different times) watched and said nothing. My little brother said he “opened the door so [Big Sister who was babysitting] could hear you screaming.”
- Don’t assume that children know that “don’t touch stuff that doesn’t belong to you” also applies to people’s bodies. teach them that people are more important than things so of course it applies.
- Don’t assume that children know that it is Ok to raise their voice & say “Back off” “Don’t touch me” “get your hands off of me” – even when they’re supposed to be quiet. Tell them just because you’re supposed to be quiet in a library etc, doesn’t mean you’re to allow someone to touch you.
- Don’t assume children know what is the appropriate use of force. “Knee till you hit brain” is appropriate if a male is going to assault them. (but if the bullying is just verbal try not to escalate it (not the least of which, there could be charges))
- Don’t assume being unkind/mean once = being a bully forever. I can recall a few times to my shame that I said unkind things to another kid. I didn’t mean to be mean, and I certainly wasn’t a bully. But teach them if you’re unkind to someone you should apologize and try never to do it again. And teach them to forgive if their friend was unkind. But if there is a habit of unkindness, that person isn’t their friend and they should stay away. even if they’re supposed to be their BFF.
- Don’t assume the local bully’s parents know their kids are the biggest bully in town. They may be just as shocked as you would be at the idea that your kid is a bully. any accusations of being a bully, should be taken seriously and discussed with child before flying off the handle.
- Don’t assume “once a bully always a bully” & “once a victim always a victim.” the bully may have been a victim at one time and the victim may become a bully. And bullies can change and become better people.
If someone teaches your kid, “sticks and stones” tell them that’s a lie. words hurt very badly.