November 30, 2010 Sandra Dawes

There seems to be a lot in the news recently on the subject of bullying. There have been cases of teenagers being bullied so severely that they have committed suicide. This is obviously a serious problem when it results in the death of someone. There was a recent campaign started to raise awareness of bullying and its destructive consequences, but it made me wonder if this will indeed stop bullying?

The reality is that kids (as well as adults) can be mean. What is the best way we can help our children or ourselves in standing up to bullies? I saw on the news the other day a father who got on a school bus full of pre-teen kids and went into a tirade because his daughter, who suffers from mild cerebral palsy, had been bullied so bad, she didn’t want to go to school. While some parents were outraged by his actions believing he was being a bully himself, many supported him for sticking up for his child and trying to protect her from the unkind actions of her classmates.

While watching this father and daughter, I was reminded of my own father coming to school to defend me against a boy that was picking on me. While it stopped the teasing for a while, it wasn’t long before he back back to bothering me. I of course went back to my father, hoping that he would repeat his “little chat” with the young man, but to my surprise and chagrin, my father refused! He explained that he couldn’t and wouldn’t always be there to fight my battles and that I needed to learn how to defend myself.

For my dad, defending myself meant learning how to box. My dad had been an amateur boxer, so he decided that giving me boxing lessons would be an effective way for me to learn how to stand up for myself. While I never had to put my boxing skills to the test, knowing that I had the ability to defend myself gave me the confidence not to put up with any bullying or teasing from anyone.

While I’m not advocating boxing lessons for all kids who have been teased or bullied, I think that empowering kids is an important way to stop bullies in their tracks. When kids have strong self-esteem and self-confidence, the actions of bullies are futile. Instead of viewing a child who has been bullied as a victim, I personally think that giving a child the tools to increase their confidence and improve the way they view themselves is the best way to go. Whether we are 5 or 50, feeling good about ourselves and who we really are makes the opinions and actions of other matter very little. ♥

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