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Stop Bullying!

Derek Randel

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Bullying - What are your Child's Options?

Mark told his son if anyone bullies him he should punch him in the mouth, and he won't bother him again. Is this good advice? Does this always work? Can every child handle these directions? What happens if the bully is a girl or if his son is the victim of cyber-bullying?

Our job as parents, teachers, and adults is to provide tools for our children to handle bullies. Empowering your child to handle the situation is the best way to get involved. We need to be aware of different strategies because what works for one may not work for all victims. Telling the child to fight is usually the wrong message because most victims are physically smaller and not as aggressive as the one bullying them. When I was growing up, fighting the bully was how I handled my situation and it worked. Today, however, society is different. Fighting is not suggested. Schools have come up with ridiculous "zero-tolerance" rules, and fighting back can get you expelled. I believe zero tolerance equals zero common sense. The way your child is taught to handle these situations makes the difference between life being tolerable and life being intolerable. Here are some messages we must send to our children:

1. Remember you're not the problem, the bully is.
2. You have the right to feel safe and secure at all times.
3. Be proud of what makes you different.
4. Go to school everyday; you have every right to be there.

These are just words and mean nothing if we do not follow up on these statements. The child needs to know we are there to support them.

What options should be given to anyone who is a victim of bullying?

1. Spend your time with friends. There is a reduced chance of being a victim when you're with others and not alone.
2. If possible, ignore the bully or tell him/her to stop. Walk away instead of standing there listening to someone's garbage.
3. Always tell an adult -- someone trusted like a teacher, principal, parent, or a family member. This is a way to get help. Who cares if someone calls you a "snitch"? Is it better to just get beat up?
4. Stay in safer areas of the school during lunch and breaks. Do not go to the bathroom alone, or walk around on the playground by yourself.
5. Always stay where there are plenty of other people; don't wander off on your own.
6. Sit near the driver on the bus. Refuse to go to the back of the bus where the bullies may be sitting.
7. On your way to and from school, vary the route if possible. Walk with other people as much as you can.
8. If you receive threatening phone calls or e-mails, contact the police. This is considered harassment and is a criminal offense.
9. Consider martial arts training (Karate, Judo). This helps numerous children with their self-confidence.
10. Learn one-liners. These are short, powerful sentences to prevent you from being pulled into an argument. You can find these in our parenting book or by contacting us.
11. Avoid eye contact. This can get the bully agitated and it may show your fear.
12. Increase your number of friends. Let's teach our children how to be a friend.
13. Look at your body language. Are you confident and powerful or timid and worried? Do you try not to be noticed by looking at the ground? This makes you look defensive and vulnerable. Instead, carry your head high, shoulders back, chest out, and walk like you own the place.

The objective in reviewing these options is to show a victim there are alternate strategies. To act on these choices, one must decide to do so.

© 2007 Randel Consulting, Inc.

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