Let’s Stop Bullying Our Children

bullying pic Bullying is a real concern and increasingly a problem that most schools are addressing albeit, some more effectively than others. Bullying is affecting all levels of education, from public to private schools, from kindergarten to high school. Children or youth who are bullied say it’s because they are overweight, underweight, are short, or are extremely shy, a large percentage claim it’s because they are gay or lesbian or are perceived to be. Suicide rates among teens and even younger children are on the rise, much of the cause can be attributed to bullying related to the fear of homosexuality or simply, homophobia. Children and youth who bully are not secure individuals, to bully they must feel insecure in some way. Some children put themselves down on a regular basis, emulating what they see adults doing. Often it is at home within their families that they feel most insecure. When parents tease their kids, put them down by calling them “stupid”, or by saying “you can’t do anything right”, they are in fact putting that child down, and in a sense bullying their own children. They may take the position that they are the authority and therefore can use their power as they see fit. However, being a parent does not give anyone the right to mistreat a child. No one owns anyone else. Once a child is born, he or she becomes an autonomous individual, with a unique sense of self and self-expression. When children feel judged by their parents, they feel a sense of great injustice. As many children have no healthy outlet to express those feelings of injustice, they become angry and often take that anger to the school yard; either leading them to become bullies or to become the bullied. The teaching of morals and values in the home can also have a serious impact on children and youth. If the family’s values center on not accepting homosexuals, teasing overweight people, or talking negatively about people of different racial and cultural backgrounds, then in effect, that is educating the child, however prejudicially. Children are engrained with family values from a young age; they grow up and integrate these values into their psyche. When others don’t reflect the same values, these children can become angry and resentful. Negative messages, even when normalized in the home resonate injustice in a profound way to the child. The signs can be withdrawal from school activities, extreme shyness and mild to severe depression, ADHD type symptoms, outbursts, fighting and bullying behaviour, either as victim or victimizer. The question ‘If Mom and Dad hate gays, do they hate me too,” will inevitably arise in the child’s mind. Curbing negative talk, avoiding racial, homophobic and other types of slurs will definitely improve your child’s mental health. In the end, children will end up respecting their parents more when their parents show respect for themselves and others. Beginning a trend of positive reinforcement in the home that will bring back health and wellbeing is key. Bullying can also be a result of your child’s repressed homosexual nature. Parents are not always aware of what is really going on in their child’s heart. The child could be feeling that he or she is gay or lesbian, but have no one to talk to about it. Repression of feelings can lead to depression or suicide, as well as to bulling. Read: Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together by Robert A. Bernstein. Talk about gays and lesbians directly, mention cases in the news, and give your child a book about it, for example: It Gets Better: Coming Out, Overcoming Bullying, and Creating a Life Worth Living. Steps to take to ensure your child doesn’t become a bully or is bullied:
  • Begin to improve your own level of self-confidence and sense of compassion. Start a journal and track your negative    thinking. Begin to write daily affirmations that are positive and inspiring.
  • Read up on the issues that most disturb you, if homosexuality is one, read up on it.
  • Build your own self-respect, read The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma or similar books on self-improvement.
  • Stop yourself from making judgmental and offensive comments, especially in front of your children. If you do make  them, apologize immediately and try not to say them again. It shows your child you have self-respect, even though you can make mistakes.
  • Do not offend your child, if you do, apologize and rephrase the sentence to mean the exact opposite. For example, if  you say “You can’t do anything right”, change to – “You do most everything well, next time you’ll do this better too.” Read the book “How to Talk so Kids Will Listen & Listen so Kids Will Talk by Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.
  • Go to the library and choose books to read to your children that address inclusiveness and promote team spirit. Ask the  librarian to help you. If you do not read to your children, begin now, it’s never too late.
Be there for your child in a positive, non-judgmental way, and they’ll reward you with personal confidence and self-respect.

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