We Are Teachers has an excellent opinion article about what bullying is and what it isn’t. I know bullying is a big buzzword in education, but it’s important to understand what the difference is between innocent teasing or joking among friends, hurtful teasing, one-time events and repeating problems.
I’ve written on the topic of bullying before, but it is worth revisiting time and again. In this day and age of helicopter parents who can misconstrue almost anything such as reprimanding their children, or kids being well… kids, parents and other adults need to all agree on what actions to take when it comes to real bullying (repeated offenses, constant threats, use of force, etc).
One-off name-calling, games where kids may get hurt when taken too far, or innocent jokes that some kids misinterpret don’t always count as bullying. When we use the word “bullying” to label any sort of negative action against people, the word loses its meaning and importance.
“Well, that’s just part of growing up”
That was the case when I was younger, and I’m sure it was the same for many of you out there. Part of me still agrees with that idea – children should learn to deal with harmful/hurtful situations involving peers or other classmates. Parents/teachers cannot coddle a child every time something bad happens to them, otherwise they wouldn’t learn to become independent or defend themselves. At the same time, we cannot just overlook such behavior from the aggressors.
So what’s the solution?
I think parents and teachers should explain what appropriate behavior and words are, of course, and hold their students/children accountable for their actions and words. Realistically, teachers and parents should understand that we don’t live in an ideal world and people get hurt. In that case, teach children what to say and do in cases where they see or experience bullying when an adult is not around. We cannot control what other children do, but we can influence what our children do. 🙂