Teach your kid to stand up to bullies

  • By Team TDO

Almost everyone has heard of the beach bully who goes around kicking sand in the face of the skinny lad. That's the quintessential imagery associated with bullies and it has stayed with us for over 3 decades since the first ads came out. The ads generally endorsed body building products using the classic 'Before' and 'After' construct, i.e. before you got your face sandblasted by the beach bully and after you took that protein shake or muscle builder to get even.

Bullying is a phenomenon where a person or group wilfully targets someone with the intention of troubling them over a specific thing. (Bullies generally pick on someone they perceive as physically, mentally, financially, socially or racially inferior.) There is no age-limit for bullies as the bully could be a school going kid with an attitude problem or a fully grown adult, who could indulge in it from sheer force of habit or due to a mental problem. Again there is no age limit for the victim as well. Anybody could really be a target for the bully menace, right from school children, teenagers, disabled or even old people. Well bullying has changed considerably in these times and you also have the e-bully version where insecure bullies go about harassing people, especially teenagers over the internet. Bullies resort to tactics like causing public humiliation or embarrassment to hapless victims or resort to threats or other control-based abusive behaviour.

Ok so everyone has undergone bullying from time to time but the question is should you allow it to happen to your teenaged son or daughter?

Mind you, here it isn't simply a question of some leg pulling by friends or teachers but some serious malice that could well destroy your teenager's confidence and cause permanent scars on his self-esteem. Yes, if your teenager is being subjected to bullying then teach him how to kick the sand right back in the bully's face.

Before we learn how to do that let's see the types of bullying that your kid could be subjected to:

Verbal bullying

This includes teasing or making caustic remarks directed at someone on a regular basis. The school bully does that, doesn't he? As you would probably remember from your own school days that fat lout who made you quiver with fright as he snatched your lunch box away to feed the dogs. Yes, the very same guy who pulled your sister's pig-tails and called you names which made you go red in the face. You could do nothing but pray he wouldn't notice you somehow. Well so something similar could be happening with your teenager. Verbal bullying need not be done by a school friend. Even a responsible teacher could target someone for deprecatory remarks causing much embarrassment, ridicule andfeelings of inadequacy to a teenager. Sometimes kids look up to their teachers for encouragement and support and those very people could actually damage a child's self-esteem by unjustified criticism and bullying behaviour.Teenage girls could suffer taunts and remarks about certain physical traits and since they are at a delicate age where their bodies are undergoing changes, such verbal abuse can indeed cause long-term depression or personality issues.

Physical bullying

Physical bullying is where your teenager could be subjected to physical harassment at the hands of the bully. Whether it is a simple case of holding your teenager's hand or unprovoked physical assault, the end result is the same-injuries to the body and mind. The bully may not go as far as inflict any visible scars on the teenager's body but the episodes could certainly cause great fear and trauma to him. Even teenage girls are not spared physical abuse at the hands of bullies. In certain cases, teens suffering from long-term bullying actually took some extreme measures by committing suicide or breaking down completely.

Internet bullying

Internet bullying is where your teenager is probably most vulnerable. At least school bullying is restricted to school, but here your teenager is at the mercy of just about everyone - from the school bully to the earnest paedophile! Causing embarrassment on public forums, threats of physical or sexual harm is the most common and as a parent you have to take every step possible to not just protect your child but also help him take care of himself or herself.

The bully menace

The school bully is comparatively easier to deal with than the internet lout! Well, one can't be too sure of that statement either since these days,school kids are known to blow up their own classmates or participate in a heist with adult precision. Always watch out for the classic signs of bullying. If your child appears withdrawn or disturbed after school hours then gently probe and encourage your child to tell it all. If you feel there is enough reason to think your child is being subject to bullying then bring it to the notice of the school immediately as others could have similar complaints. Do not admonish your child or scold him as it could cause him to withdraw in to the shell that the bully provided him in the first place. Parents and elder siblings can be bullies too so remember that. Teach your child to stand up to bullies. The bully is generally an insecure person who uses brute force to feel good about himself, at the cost of others. The school bully generally has his way and is not used to being challenged. Teach your child to look the bully in the eye and register protest. This will go a long way in teaching your child how to fight back and not take any nonsense from others.If the situation worsens, then always keep a track of your teenager’s whereabouts especially if it is a girl. Once the bully realizes that he is being tracked he generally lies low or picks on someone else. Internet bullying requires different measures. You can monitor your child’s online activities and teach them to never ever share any personal information or photographs online or on forums which are off-limits for children and adolescents. You can complain to the authorities if things get out of hand. If someone repeatedly issues threats to your teenager, either online or in real life, is a cause for real concern and one must take them seriously. If your child does not learn to cope with bullies it could affect him well in to adulthood, where he will feel helpless and easily scared by imposing people or even develop a hatred for authority figures. Bullying can fuel an already weak personality in to gaining an inferiority complex; the flip side is that kids who have been subjected to bullying can repeat the same patterns on their younger siblings or at school. So a bully creates another bully if continued unchecked.

Mental problems in children are on the rise, so bullying is also no longer an innocent joke but could be a serious crime. Bullies whether children or grown-ups, suffer from some personality disorder or a serious inferiority complex which makes them compulsive trouble makers and their victims are generally people who cannot hit back or are vulnerable. Take Hitler for instance. Wasn't he just a bully who was unhappy in his own life? Look what he did to millions of innocent people. Wasn’t that a bully gone berserk?

 

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