The third week in November is anti-bullying week.
“The challenge is huge:
As well as this, Stonewall, who are a charity for lesbian, gay and bisexual equality, report that 75,000 young people will be bullied because of their sexuality and 21,000 will attempt suicide.
So, what can we do as parents, to help prevent bullying and tackle it if it does arise? We can start from an early age to encourage compassion and allow ourselves and our children to express their emotions without fear of mockery or judgement. The best way to beat the bullies is to talk, about them, and about the feelings that they create, and to recognise that the act of bullying is not the fault of the bullied.
We can try to make sure that our children feel confident,in themselves and also confident enough to talk to us if they are having a problem. Sometimes it is easier to talk to someone outside of the immediate family, so maybe they have a kind Aunty or Uncle that they feel happy expressing feelings to.
Encouraging difference is also an important way to both support individuality and to reinforce that conformity is not mandatory for a happy life. Todd Parr, to give one example, writes excellent books on a number of topics from feelings to differences and even underpants (kids seem to like books about pants!) with colour and humour that will appeal to everyone.
Sadly, bullying is not limited to the playground but can even reach a child at home now, when they are online. Cyberbullying can happen to anyone, by people known and unknown to us too. We also have to be aware of much more nefarious people out there and the INEQE website is a great place to start to learn about how to protect your child -and yourself- online.
If we can encourage confidence, compassion and empathy from a young age, then maybe one day, bullying will be a thing of the past. Maybe this is a little bit optimistic,but racism, sexism, homophobia, all of these things are learned behaviours and I believe in a pro-active approach to teach acceptance.
Written by our regular contributor Catherine.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.