“Ewwww! Your shoes smell like fish!”
First off all, I can assure you that my shoes DID NOT smell like fish. Even if they did, how would this girl know? She never once got close enough to even know what my shoes smelled like! She completely terrified me and I avoided her at all costs. I would take the long way home, just to avoid having to walk past her house. If I did have to walk that way, I would look straight ahead and walk really fast, hoping that she wouldn’t see me. Sometimes I was lucky enough to avoid her, but not always. If I did see her, I knew what was coming, “Ewwww….”
As an adult, it is easy to look back and think how ridiculous the whole situation was. This girl had things pretty rough at home and it was probably a major reason why she bullied me.
In retrospect, it is easy to think, “I should have just been assertive and stood up for myself,” but at the time, I wasn’t a confident adult; I was a 10 year old girl who was being bullied by someone who was older and bigger than I was. I can still remember the feeling I got every time I saw her. My stomach would start doing summersaults, my knees felt like Jell-O and I would feel so nauseous it was amazing that I never threw up in front of her.
Statistics show us that bullying happens far too frequently. The latest Halton Youth Survey shows that:
- 39% of grade 7 students and 28% of grade 10 students in Halton, reported being bullied at school at some point during the 2009/2010 school year.
While most bullying happens at school, it can happen anywhere children are together. As adults, we need to be concerned abut bullying. Both children who are victims and children who bully are at risk for developing a wide variety of emotional and behavioural problems as they get older.
We know that bullying can be a difficult issue to manage. It can be especially emotional for a parent who as a child was a victim of bullying. So what is a parent to do? There are resources available to support you. There are also strategies that children can use if they are being bullied, are the bully or are the bystander.
Remember that attitudes toward managing bullying have changed since you were a kid. Old bullying myths such as “adults should stay out of it” or “kids just have to learn to stand up for themselves” no longer hold true. Research has shown that when a child is being bullied, there is an imbalance of power. The child who is bullying has all of the power and often the victim is unable to stand up for themselves. Sometimes when children do stand up for themselves, especially when they come across aggressively, it can also prolong the bullying or make it worse.
Bullying is definitely a tough topic. This makes it all the more important that we as parents and adults take it seriously. We need learn more about the motivations and impact of bullying in order to help our children overcome it.
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