The movie “Bully” depicts a sobering, even frightening, view of what some children are experiencing in school, some on a daily basis. The tragic reality of suffering that our children experience in school should awaken the advocate within us to create change for children, our children. As fathers, we possess the powerful position of “advocate” for our children, whether we have small children or teenagers.
Bullying is not just a “kid” problem. It is an adult problem, too. Children are statistically more likely to ask parents for help during their early elementary years if they experience problems with bullying. They will come to us looking for help. They will come to us looking for answers. What will we say to our children when they approach us to share that they are being bullied at school? Suddenly, we are impacted. This is not someone else’s kid. This is “my” child.
Many of us were not in the least bit comforted by the words of our own dads: “If someone bullies you, you have my permission to fight.” This was a hollow notion that really meant, “Help yourself, kid.”
The reality for most bullied children today is that they will not physically fight a bully. They are afraid. They feel powerless. If they could fight the bully, odds are we would have already received a call from the school about our child sitting nicely in the principal’s office. We must be careful not to extend this feeling of powerlessness to the parent-child relationship. Our encouragement of fighting is not motivation for action for the child; rather, it is a force that immobilizes most children. The reason why they have come to us, fathers, is because we are strong.
And we can help.
A lot is riding on our help. If you are a parent or educator who “knows” about bullying, you are involved. A child’s perception of adult responsibility and effective problem solving will develop based on how we emerge as their advocates. All involved adults will face scrutiny from students of all ages for helping or not helping those who are bullied. Eventually, your child or other students will perceive you as someone who helps fix the problem or someone who permits the problem to continue.
How can you help your child, Dad?
Also, it is important to mention that all fighting and violence at school is not bullying. Peer conflict may arise between your child and another student during school that is simply conflict between two (or more) people. Peer conflict refers to situations where there is equal power. Each person is aggressive. Sometimes fights erupt. Someone emerges as the winner. Sometimes nobody emerges as the winner. But this is not bullying. Bullying is characterized by the dynamic of unequal power.
Further, horseplay should not be considered bullying when the individuals involved understand what is happening. Do you remember playing King of the Mountain as a kid? Kids still play King of the Mountain.
“Published originally by TulsaPeople.com in May 2012.”
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