WHY ARE KIDS BULLYING OTHER KIDS AND WHAT CAN SCHOOLS DO?
Today the sad news of another teen who saw no other way out than to end her life reached the media. Often a search as to the cause and what can be done follows.
I think more than just one cause is at work to make a teen despair about life. Most of it happens before the children even reach adolescence. It needs a change in our current society to make people and their children more responsible and accountable for their actions.
Teens are already in a heightened emotional state due to the natural hormonal changes of adolescence that has an effect on emotional stability. Additional life stage challenges, such as developing peer relationships for orientation of ideas instead of solely relying on parental guidance, add to the emotional instability.
According to developmental psychology principles, peer relationships must be developed before the next stage of finding a mate can occur, all on the way to adulthood. If social relationships are failing, the adolescent’s life is failing. This is very, very important for teens and for parents to understand: that this principle cannot be overestimated, its importance for the life of an adolescent.
Nowadays in this child centered time I see that many parents are overprotecting their children from a young age and shelter their children from bad experiences, starting in Kindergarten and all though elementary school. In those settings, children can be protected and controlled, and parents pride themselves in making their children their priority.
That protection also can have another, unintended side effect: over protected children do not learn to defend themselves and take other children’s actions as a crushing blow to their being, when the parent or teacher always intervenes. Parents walk a fine line, finding a balance as a parent between over protection and teaching self reliance. However, children need to develop resiliency to get through life without their parent hovering over them to tell them what to do.
Then there are other parents who neglect their children, give them the video toys and expect them to entertain themselves, as they are so overloaded with work, or are physically absent, or exhausted, possibly self involved, or/and emotionally absent. Their children are possibly developing little resiliency too, and possibly express that as well at school and in social situations, as they have had little protection and parental guidance in how to solve their peer conflicts at home and feed their need for emotional safety. They might become aggressive, verbally or physically, and seek to control their siblings at home, or the kids on the playground. They might be turning to bullying weaker children, targeting others to make them feel better, or act out in frustration. Or they might become defenseless and become targets.
Then there is a third group of children who grow up in disrespectful homes, where the adults use abusive and disrespectful language between them, have few conflict resolution skills and fight their adult fights in front of the children, with physical fights, or awful, demeaning language, and so teach their children that abuse of others is OK and acceptable. They do not learn compassion for others and generosity. Their life might become a constant battle for survival, aiming to please the adults/caregiver, or to prevent adult conflicts in the home. That happens in a lot of families of all ethnic groups and in mainstream society and of any economic status. Let’s call a spade a spade: sometimes (often) alcohol (or drug use) is involved. If you drank too much, you might not even remember how awful your conduct was. But your children remember.
In other homes disrespect for women and their autonomy is the issue. Children learn to abuse and disregard their mother, and any female by extension. According to government statistics, four out of ten children witness violence at home in our province. How can we expect teens to cope, if we do not address this issue as a society?
Are you teaching your children that we are all equal, regardless of colour, religion, or social status, or physical ability? When you make disparaging comments, your children listen. When we keep our distance because our neighbour is “different, not like us” , what is the message we give our children?
Are you a parent in this group, or in any of these groups?
If so, you need to seek help for the sake of your children, for the sake of your children’s school mates. Do you want to be responsible, have a suicide of another child on your conscience? No school staff can remedy the issue of teen suicide. We as parents need to deal with this and clean up our own act. We can not hide behind the anonymity of the internet as our children do.
Our well-intended, humanitarian values must stretch beyond the immediate home environment into the world, so our children will not bully others, the victims will find a friendly ear and be protected from bullying.
What do you think? Waht do you do to teach your children? Any comments and thoughts are appreciated