Are these words of war? In a sense, yes. These are synonyms for bullying. And they are powerful words. Bullying has become pervasive in our society. From pushing and shoving to wars of words, to ganging up on the weak, to cyber threats and intimidation, these behaviours are disrupting the right to live a happy life.
I think we’ve all been touched in some way by bullying. Whether it was us as children, at work, in the PTA, or through our childrens’ experiences, the aggressive nature of bullying is terribly painful to experience and to watch.
According to Public Safety Canada (www.publicsafety.gc.ca):
roughly 6% of students4 aged 12 to 19, report bullying others on a weekly basis, 8% report that they are victims of bullying weekly, and 1% report that they are both victimized and bully others on a weekly basis (Volk, Craig, Boyce and King, 2003; Rivers and Smith, 1994; Haynie et. al., 2001).
Bullying surveys also indicate that many more boys than girls report being victims of bullying and almost all boys named male peers as the aggressors (Totten, Quigley and Morgan, 2004).
A recent self report survey on delinquency among Toronto youth indicates that 16% of youths in grades 7 to 9 had been bullied on more than 12 occasions during the year prior to the survey (Statistics Canada, 2007).
I’ve personally experienced bullying in my workplace, through my children, and my own experiences. It’s devastating- both emotionally and physically. What’s frustrating to watch is that much of the bullying in the schoolyard is directed towards children or teens with special needs. Most recently, in Pickering, Ontario, an 11 year old boy with Muscular Dystrophy committed suicide after being bullied on and off the school yard.
I see so many children who are seemingly lacking in compassion, kindness, and tolerance. Nobody is teaching them that we are all different. Modern parenting is so focused on worrying about self-esteem that many parents are afraid to admit to or challenge bad behaviour. How is a principal supposed to maintain order in a school when parents deny their children’s behaviour or take them to amusement parks when they’re suspended for bullying?.
Don’t get me wrong. I know parenting is tough. I do it everyday. Nobody wants to fight the fight everyday, or admit our child has a problem. But, we chose to have children, and we need to go into it with eyes wide open. We have to bring them up right. It’s our responsibility to set them up for success. If we don’t challenge their behaviour, then how will they learn to be better?
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