Stop the bullies-A A +A
Saturday, April 12, 2014
I WAS bullied as a kid. It all happened in Kindergarten. But while I have forgiven the kids who bullied me, I don’t think anyone should ever go through what I did.
How do we stop the bullies?
I think there will always be bad behavior and bullies just as there will always be troubled homes and problematic kids. Some kids act out their pent-up anger from home in school. Some kids do not have the social skills to deal with conflicts amicably. Some kids cannot handle emotions. Some kids mimic aggression from home.
So many issues surround the existence of bullies. But we can teach our kids some basic lessons on how not to be a bully and how not to be a victim of bullying.
At the outset, we need to teach our kids about respect. It’s not about being aggressive or submissive, being outspoken or quiet. It’s about treating others with respect and walking away from others who do not respect them.
With mutual respect as a guidepost, kids are better able to understand what types of behavior are acceptable and what types of behavior are not.
We should teach our kids that threats and assaults, verbal, physical or psychological are not acceptable. No one should call them names. No one should hit them. No one should take their stuff away from them by force. No one should be hurling insults at them. No one should be making them feel small, defective or inferior.
Bullies cannot thrive in an environment hostile to their abusive ways.
There should be zero tolerance for bullying in schools. And bullies must face the consequences of their actions. Bullies should not be allowed to get away with their bad behavior because this is how they thrive.
Beyond strict policies that must be set to address issues of bullying, schools must also closely supervise the conduct of students and teachers should establish an environment where students can report incidents of bullying without fear.
I was not only bullied. I also saw others being bullied. But I did not do anything about it. This was wrong. I did not do the bullying. But I stood by and did nothing. And in a sense, I was as guilty as those bullies.
I was raised to be submissive. And although, I was not exactly a lamb at home, entering Kindergarten, my first year of school, was an entirely new experience for me. As a five-year-old thrust into a whole new world, I did not know how to conduct myself. I just wanted to stay out of trouble. So I played it safe. I said nothing. I was wrong.
Every kid should be taught to learn to say “no” without fear. Every kid should be assured of a safe haven and a listening ear. More than anything else, every kid should be taught that they have a duty to help those who cannot help themselves. Every kid must be taught that helping someone who is hurt or upset is the right thing to do.
We cannot change the circumstances which shape the transformation of regular kids into bullies in the backyard but we can change the environment in which they operate with a collective response from kids taught to automatically protect the weak from those who pounce on them.
This is how we stop the bullies.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 13, 2014.