With this new series, my intention is to help foster and nurture an open and profound bond between father and daughter, one that transcends the awkwardness of puberty. (I wrote about it in more detail here.)
And in that spirit, I’ve agreed that once a week I will answer – honestly – any question my husband puts to me.
This week, hubby’s question overlaps with a mini-series I’m writing about bullying.
Hubby: Last week we spoke about grooming. That’s the more scary aspect of an online presence – but there is another (arguably less dangerous) problem: trolling. Or just plain bullying from people you know. Any ideas on how best to deal with this one?
Me: My readers won’t know, but this is something we first touched on at home some time ago, in a more general sense. At the time, I was very keen to explore bullying, but I felt ill-equipped and wanted time to think and research.
I’ve had that time, and I’m not very much further forward. Here’s my dilemma:
I don’t have any answers. I see holes in every possible solution – they may work…but they may just as likely not.
The ‘usual’ options available include ignoring the perpetrator; appealing to their better nature; involving an adult; getting physical. But I’m not convinced that a single one of these is a solid way to proceed.
Were you bullied as a child? I know I was. Even now with an adult’s perspective, I still don’t know how I could have fixed the problems. And it really is a problem when you’re in that situation. For any adult who hasn’t experienced it, I can completely appreciate how it may seem innocuous; petty; juvenile; and basically quite trivial in the grand scheme of things.
Only it’s much more than that when you’re in it.
Being terrorised can affect your whole life. I mean that in a two-pronged way as well:
- It can tip over into every aspect of your life;
- It can continue to influence you far into adulthood.
Naturally it won’t be true of every case, but in many circumstances childhood bullying can be the reason for a person growing up to be shy or awkward, or lacking in self-confidence and self-esteem.
This is not okay.
So then – how do we deal with it?
In terms of online harassment, it’s all very similar to that which we spoke about last week, ie. education; limited exposure, etc. And so this week I’m focusing more on bullying in schools.
I’ve been trying to come up with a workable solution, and I’ve failed. The biggest breakthroughs I had are really quite pitiful:
- Be sure to bring our children up in such a way that they are unlikely to be targets.
- If things ever got bad enough, pledge to home school.
But these feel like cop-out ideas, because they’re not facing the problem and dealing with it. The first is a clutching at straws, and the second amounts to running away. I’m not sure either is a good model for how I wish my children to problem-solve. I want to arm them with the tools to take on difficult tasks and find a way through them.
So ultimately, this post throws up more questions than answers.
- Do you have any other ideas for how best to combat bullying in schools?
- Have you ever put any plan into action and seen favourable results, either as a child or as a parent?
- Do you think being bullied as a kid has negatively impacted you as an adult?
- Or do you, perhaps, think it’s less prevalent or less of an issue than I’m making it?
It’s something which causes me a lot of concern, and I would dearly like to see it stamped out.
Sadly, for as long as there remain adult bullies in the world, so there will be children who emulate this behaviour (of which more next week).