We used to only hear about "bullying" in old-fashioned ways: Someone's lunch box gets hidden in the bushes, someone is squirted with water. Harmless fun? Perhaps, but these are not the stories we hear lately. Now bullying is serious, and in many ways it's become the chief 21st-century nemesis of both parents and kids. Incidents range from threats to physical violence. As parents, what are we to do?
Many parents rely on their own experiences to deal with this increasingly common problem, such as Circle of Moms member Dyan B., who was teased for the acne she sported as a kid. Her son is now being bullied for being short and thin. He's been kicked, has had basketballs thrown in his face — and one child even threatened to set his bed on fire. Another mom, Tara K. was bullied by a group of girls a year older than her. They followed her home, taunted her, and called her names. When she finally resorted to retaliation, the girls backed down. Still, she doesn't think this is a satisfying solution. She argues that the "competitive mindset" among today's youth is counter to the cooperation and empathy needed to co-exist harmoniously.
Tara and many other moms believe that these critical life skills should be taught in schools, just as academic subjects are. But until that come to pass, what to do?
Raise Your Concerns with the Right People
The vast majority of moms discussing the issue on Circle of Moms agree that you must take action. You should raise your concerns with teachers, the school principal, and the parents of the child who bullied. If your concerns fall on deaf ears, Tamara W. suggests going even further, to the school superintendent.
Comfort, Coach, and Empower the Victim
You also need to talk to your own child. Help him understand why the child who bullied might have resorted to meanness. Explain that this child lack confidences and may even be a victim of bullying him or herself. This might not heal your child's own emotional or physical wounds, but it will go a long way toward preventing retaliation, which most agree is not a long-term answer to this pervasive problem. (According to experts, children who bully are often victims themselves. Many have poor role models, or are in abusive homes.)
And no matter the circumstances of the child who bullied yours, you first need to protect your own. Help your child pinpoint adults who are in a position to intervene, so that if it happens again, he knows not only not to retaliate, but how to end a bullying incident before it gets out of control.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.