It’s had to believe, but back to school time is upon us already! Folders and notebooks are on sale everywhere and it seems like every store has a big display of backpacks in every color of the rainbow. While some parents are sad to see summer end, others are relieved to see the end of childcare hassles, or can tell their kids are bored and ready for new challenges.
One thing that not enough parents think about this time of year is bullying. Just today I saw a post a Facebook from a college classmate asking for prayers for her son starting at a new school. Not for his grades, but because he’s been the target of bullying in the past. It broke my heart. It also brought back memories of my childhood and the bullying I endured.
I’m truly thankful this issue is getting attention now (I assure you it wasn’t in the 80s), but the problem continues. Many schools do have anti-bullying programs in place. And that’s a good thing. But, much like well-meaning programs like DARE have been shown to have little actual effect on drug use, it doesn’t appear these programs are doing much other than making everyone feel good that their kids’ school is “doing something about it”.
I’ve written about bullying several times in the past, and I don’t have all the answers. I don’t think anyone does. But as someone who was a victim of consistent bullying for most of my childhood I’m asking you to talk about it. Talk to your kids about it. Talk to your grandkids. Talk to your nieces and nephews. Talk to your neighbor kids. Talk to any kid that will listen. Tell them why bullying is wrong. Tell them they can come to you if they are being bullied – and mean it!
And don’t just talk to kids – talk to adults too! Talk about why brushing it off as “just kids fooling around” is wrong and can be dangerous. Talk about why the standards of changed and why behaviors folks thought were OK even 10 years ago aren’t anymore. If you were bullied, talk about how much it hurt and how it affected you and/ or how it continues to affect you today. It’s OK to admit that. If you were a bully and have since seen the error in your ways, make sure you talk about that- to kids AND adults! Your voice just might be the most important.
It’s a complicated issue, and like any other difficult problem, it’s going to take the entire village to solve it. Please be an active participant.