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Parents and Community are Most Effective Anti-Bullying Tools

As we admonish teens for bullying, we might want to evaluate the unintended messages we send them daily, as parents and community members.

Bullying in our schools appears to have reached almost epidemic levels.  In spite of the many anti-bullying programs, websites, slogans, policies, and rules, bullying persists in our schools.  There is even a National Bullying Prevention Center complete with videos and community resources. Yet, the bully unabatedly persists.

How do teens learn the exact words that will sting and wound their peers so deeply? How do they become so adept at observing the body language of their victim so as to know when a “verbal zinger” will sear through an unhealed hurt?  How do they so effectively seek out other teens vulnerable enough to wrap in their web of intimidation? It may not take a research study to conclude that our teens may be learning from us – their loving parents and caring community members.

Our teenagers have been observing us for years. They have been listening to the words we use in the home and watching how we interact with friends and family members. They have been observing how we treat the neighbors. They scrutinize our actions in the store check-out line when we get upset. They observe our reaction when we are offended although the offender may say sorry.  They hear us talking about who we put in their place on the job. They hear us brag about who we plotted to keep out or planned to let in at board, commission and association meetings. They are well aware of how we ostracize fellow members of councils, committees and community organizations.

Dare I mention some of the names our teens hear us use to label people — many of whom we don’t know personally? By the time our kids reach the teen years they have been taught, programmed, and hardwired to do some serious bullying — unless we intervene.

Bullying in educational settings is never acceptable and should be unquestionably dealt with.  The first tools of defense against bullying are parents and community members. As parents, and members of a caring community, we have a responsibility to model the behavior we want to see in our teens.  They are watching, listening, and practicing what they see and hear.

As we come to the end of October, which marks National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month, and move into November which marks a month of thanksgiving, we can connect the two with our words and actions.  We can be thankful that as loving parents and caring community members, we have the power through our words and actions to show our teens how to treat others.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Garcia November 01, 2012 at 04:08 PM
Thank you, Dr. Moore, for this piece. I taught 5th grade for many years and saw bullying every day. Yes, it often comes from words and actions modeled by parents, as well as what kids see on TV and at the movies (not to mention some of the music they listen to). I keep hoping that Americans will become a bit more tolerant and understanding; for example, why is it considered a sign of weakness to apologize or admit wrongdoing? To me, those actions build character.
KM November 01, 2012 at 07:03 PM
Anyone who is interested in dealing with and putting a stop to bullying, for kids, teens and adults needs to check out Kidpower.org. There are workshops being offered locally that are educational and empowering! Currently there is a workshop directly dealing with bullying and social interaction for 9-13 yr olds on November 10th. To RSVP contact me at katemolesworth@yahoo.com.
Reginald "Rex" Henderson November 03, 2012 at 01:59 PM
Oh come on. Back in the day, a little bullying lead to lifelong freindships (and an occasional black eye). Isn't this just PC (poppycock!)
Dr. Lois Merriweather Moore November 12, 2012 at 06:38 PM
As we read the headlines of the children who are dying as a result of bullying, we realize it has moved beyond "an occasional black eye". The world we live in is changing. There is no comparison to "bullying back in the day" to the 21st century in which we live. Children are dying.
TheCounty415 November 12, 2012 at 07:25 PM
From the Mayor of Fairfax. Posted on Facebook to 2,500 people. Lew Tremaine: Hey all, > > Chad is being a total cancer on the community, but keep in mind that he is mentally ill. That does not give him the right to do the things he does, say the things he says, or hurt the folks he hurts. But, while we avoid - even shun - him, lets hope he gets the help he needs to become a whole human being again. He is sick. Not suggesting you patronize his store (which is closed at the moment because he's been committed for psych evaluation), but find room in your hearts to send healing energy to a very sick person. > > Peace, > > The Mayor

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