So often lately I have heard adults discussing bullying. What many don’t seem to understand is that although bulling has always been around, it has morphed into something very different from when they were growing up. I have even heard adults make statements such as, “I was bullied as a child, and I survived” or “it helps build character.” Both may be true, however the bullying that we endured when we were young was drastically different from the bullying that occurs now.
What’s the difference? Constant access to Technology! Everyone experiences bullying in some capacity. When I was a child, it happened during school bus rides. Those bus rides were not fun to say the least, however when I got home I knew I was safe. These days with the growth of technology and social media, no one is safe…ever.
Parents often think, “Then my kid shouldn’t be allowed on social media, right?” Well that seems all well and good, however it does not necessarily solve the problem. In fact, you may be opening them up to a whole new avenue of ridicule in school, because they are not with the times or they are weird for not having an Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, KIK or Snapchat, or one of other social media platforms. Also, just because a child doesn’t have access to these social media platforms, it doesn’t mean that they are safe from them. They can still be targeted on these sites, and will be informed by their friends.
So what can we do for our children?
Talk about bullying with your kids and watch for warning signs. Studies have shown that about half of suicides among young people are due to bullying, so this is not an issue to take lightly. Teach your children how to stand up for themselves in a safe way. Being a parent sometimes means you need to play the bad guy, and if that means getting in contact with a bully’s parents, then do it. Staying in contact with your child’s school is also extremely important. Schools these days have very strict anti-bullying policies, and they will do their best to enforce them. What you don’t want to have happen is a child being bullied who feels like no one is there to support her, or a child who feels like she has no voice.
Counseling is a great place for young people to learn to find their voices. Building a relationship with a counselor who will be non-judgmental and non-biased can help your child open up about her life experiences in a safe place. Counselors can also help children to increase their self-esteem and self worth. If you feel that your child might be experiencing bullying, and it is affecting her self-esteem, please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our Orlando mental health counselors.