We asked our Blogger of The Year, Momma Braga, to give us some advice and insight as a Mom with a young girl in a society where bullying is discouraged but still is the norm.
Melanie, define bullying in your words.
Bullying to me is a form that someone uses to feel superior against someone else. Bullying is when someone intentionally hurts or scares another person and this person who is being bullied has a hard time defending themselves.
Bullying can come in many different forms such as verbal, social, physical and cyber bullying. No form should be accepted or allowed.
Why do you think so many children bullied and little is done?
This is a tough question! In my personal opinion, I feel that bullying has always existed and has been a major problem for decades. The difference with today’s day in age is that the forms of bullying have expanded especially in the cyber world. We have even seen cases of where children have taken their own life due to it (which breaks my heart!). I also see that there is so much more communication and awareness out there then there was before too. However, so much more needs to be done.
I think we need to start changing our societal mentality around bullying; it truly starts with us! I remember growing up and hearing people say that bullying was just part of growing up and it was a way to learn to stick up for yourself. Really?! I think that saying should never be said to children as the consequences of bullying can have long-term physical and psychological effects.
How can we connect together as a community to stop bullying?
It truly does start with us as parents. We do need to come together as a community to help and support one another. When I first became a mom, I heard, “it takes a village to raise a child.” So what happens do this village? Do we forget about the village as our children get older? Maybe the phrase should be, “It takes a village to raise a person.” This way we many not feel alone going through parenting obstacles such as bullying.
Together as a village we need to continue the bullying talk. We need to think of innovative ways to get through to children on the impact of bullying and help them understand that this is never accepted at any age. We should also lead by example in our own lives to ensure that our children are not learning the behavior through our own actions. By working together, we have the power to change things and create a better future for our children. We need to change attitudes about bullying as it’s not a discipline issue but it is a teaching moment according to leading expert Shelley Hymel.
Any ideas on how you will help protect your daughter on cyber bullying?
I think this is the one that I am most scared of as the cyber world is a big scary place. I do have an understanding of how the online world works and have a good grasp of social media which I think will assist me in preparing my daughter for it. I will need to teach her what cyber bullying is and how she can protect herself from it as best as she can.
I found the article that the Baby Spot did with Jax Attwell on family safety online will be very beneficial for me to re-visit when the time comes to online safety and I recommend other parents to read it, http://thebabyspot.ca/keep-your-family-safe-online/. There are some great tips here that I know I will be referring back to you when I reach that stage of my daughter’s life.
What could parents do to help their children who are being bullied or are the bullies?
From a mom’s perceptive, it would be important to create an open dialogue with children and offer a safe place to talk. I think it is crucial that children know that they can come and talk to their parents on what is going on. Then as parents we can work with our children and find a solution to get the bullying to stop. For parents that have children who are the bullies, it is also important to talk to them to see why they are being bullies in the first place and teach them a better way to interact with their peers.
Even if your child is not being bullied, I think it is important to have these conversations with them so that they understand what bullying is and not to support those who are being bullies. When bullies don’t have an audience the bullying ends quickly.
Have you experienced bullying personally or have seen someone being bullied?
I think at some point in our lives we may have been bullied. Personally I was bullied growing up and for various reasons by different people. I was already a very shy girl to begin with and the bullying just made me hide myself more. Being shy came with its own assumptions of who I was and unfortunately those people never got to know the real me but they think they do.
However, I was fortunate enough to have found myself some great friends who loved me for me and that is when I embraced all my unique qualities. It took me awhile but I did build my self-esteem and developed a voice for myself and for others. I do have some close friends who were bullied growing up too and their stories are much harder to hear. I see the affects that it has had on them and continues to have as they have children of their own. I have seen the pain in one friend’s eyes as she talks about the fear she has of having her children being bullied. The memories all come flooding back as if she was reliving her days of being bullied all over again. That is a powerful long-term consequence for anyone to endure.
What do you wish for your growing daughter?
My wish as what many parents wish for, is for their child not to endure any bullying or even be the bully. This is why I will be teaching my daughter what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior is. I will teach her love, respect, kindness and courage. I also want to teach her that the door is always open to talk to mom and dad about anything. My first step is to make sure that as a person showcase those same qualities that I want her to reflect.
Thank you The Baby Spot for this interview on such a difficult topic such as bullying! Together we can all make an impact as “it takes a village to raise a person.”