In an article in USA TODAY last week Nanci Hellmich reported on a new study revealing that obese children get picked on by bullies more than thinner kids. No surprise there, as bullies pick on anyone who is vulnerable to their abuse; whether its due to their weight, size, color, religion or hairdo...those kids are more likely to be prey. Like many kids and boys in particular, I have past memories of being bullied myself. When we were 9 years old, my cousins and I ventured away from our safe row-house neighborhood for the first time. As we reached the main boulevard, Park Heights Avenue, full of excitement, eager to fly out of the nest and explore the big, outside world, a shiny black car with dazzling silver chrome pulled up beside us. Eight roughnecks in black leather jackets climbed out smacking their fists together. They announced themselves as the Bucky Woods gang and said, "Your kind isn't welcome on our turf." My friends and I barely escaped the attack by racing home, numb and silent with fear. I never told my parents. That incident influenced my life for many years. I believed venturing out wasn't safe and it affected me personally and in business at times.
What truly excited me about Hellmich's article was a quote by the lead author of the study, Julie Lumeng, assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Michigan. Lumeng said, "Parents need to talk to their children about not bullying their peers for any reason". Go Julie Go!
I agree with her 100%.
Calling All Parents: We need to get involved with a "Just Say No To Bullying" policy in our homes and everyplace else. I realize that many bullies are being bullied at home by siblings and parents--and they take their frustration out on others (bullies grow up to be bullies), but what about all of the other children who jump in, laugh or ignore it when they see it happening??
As a bully survivor, I made sure to teach my son at an early age not to pick on any other kid and if he saw it going on, to not join in and to tell a teacher or adult about it. Here's the result. One day, after being bullied by a bigger kid, he came home and told me. I called his dad to discuss the situation, and his response was, " They're boys, butt out of it". Oh, I did, but not until after I taught my son how to step on his toe hard, and shout "never touch me again", and the kid stopped that day. My point is as parents we do need to step in, sometimes literally, and sometimes figuratively. Self-defense against bullying is sometimes the best offense. Bullying is not acceptable.
When my son began grade school, I reminded him of our no bullying or ganging up on a kid rule. I was told more than once by teachers that they noticed my son Jesse had a great trait; whenever there was bullying, they said he either stopped some kids from picking on another kid or discouraged them to stop heckling him.
It works! What we model and teach our kids over and over eventually will set in.
Let's unite against harmful, even life threatening harassment now by getting our kids to take an anti-bullying pledge.
It's a simple to-do list for kids...will you discuss it with your child today?
The Anti-Bullying Pledge:
If you see or hear of any kid or gang of kids picking on someone you will pledge to:
1 Never jump in and make another kid feel bad.
2 If not in danger ask them to stop.
3 Tell an adult or teacher when it is happening.
The bullying buck stops here with your own kid and your example.