There are those who simply accept bullying as part of growing up, but the damage that can be done by bullying really shouldn't be underestimated. Bullying can lead to lifelong issues in terms of a person's social development. The fact is that bullying is a by-product of the current school system, a by-product of adolescence and a by-product of a variety of societal problems, but given that it's difficult to solve all of these issues as just one parent, the best that most of us can hope for is to simply make sure that our own children are protected from bullying.
New laws are being put in place that will hopefully push schools and students alike to be less tolerant when it comes to bullying. With the new legislation in mind, here are five tips to help keep your kids from becoming victims:
Create a Tolerant EnvironmentAccording to NPR, part of the new legislation has to do with education regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people. One of the best ways to keep your kids from becoming a victim or a bully is to make sure that they come from a tolerant background. (1)
Keeping RecordsAs CNN points out, bullying is moving online, and so are anti-bullying measures. Bullies on the web sometimes delete their harassing comments before anyone can show an adult. Teach your kids how to take screencaps so that they can provide evidence should they need to bring an incident to your attention or to a teacher's attention. In many areas of online security you can rely on software from the Lifelock Company in order to protect sensitive information. (2)
Be a ListenerAs suggested by Stopbullying.org: talk to your children, and listen to them. The children who react the worst to bullying are almost invariably going to be the ones who don't feel that they have a strong support group, the ones who cannot take their experiences home and talk to an adult about them. Listen, ask them about their experiences with bullying, and don't be judgemental. (3)
Taking Self-DefenseBoys have to deal with physical bullying more frequently than girls, but boys and girls alike can benefit from self-defense lessons, as the martial arts aren't really about physical confrontation so much as confidence, discipline and social development. A student of the martial arts isn't going to knock a bully's block off so much as they're not as likely to be bullied in the first place.
Be the AdultIt's important to be the rational, emotionally mature person in your child's life. This doesn't just mean keeping a roof over their head, it means being a rock of emotional stability, as well. A parent that goes into hysterics and shouts at the school teacher over bullying isn't doing much to make their child feel safe. Be rational, be mature, and develop an open line of communication with your child and with the school staff.
Just as it's your responsibility to protect your own identity with software from the Lifelock company, bullying prevention is really the adult's responsibility. While much has been made about putting pressure on the children and teens not to bully, the reality is that without a good family environment and help from teachers and other authority figures, bullying will continue. It's our job to act.