Zachary D. Campbell, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham
Currently, most people would agree that society as a whole tends to be
overstressed given the state of affairs and the ongoing pandemic in America.
Unfortunately, a side effect of stress is a greater level of bullying
not only among children, but also adults. School-age children tend to
mimic adult behaviors which has the effect of sometimes escalating minor
disputes into major bullying situations. One out of every five (20.2%)
school-age children report being bullied. Of those children who reported
Bullying is a pattern of behavior, rather than an isolated incident; this
is not surprising given the bickering we see between adults both in real
life and on TV. Lack of civility seems to be a major problem in today’s
society, which can been seen within the legal field as well. Lawyers can
often display a lack of civility to their opponents. However, it is morally
a lawyer’s job in addition to adults to set better examples for
our youth. In order to help educate and raise awareness of bullying prevention,
October is designated as National Bullying Prevention Month.
What are the consequences of bullying?
Children who are bullied are more likely to experience:
- low self-esteem and isolation,
- perform poorly in school,
- have few friends in school,
- have a negative view of school,
experience physical symptoms (such as headaches, stomachaches, or problems
sleeping), and to experience mental health issues (such as depression,
suicidal thoughts, and anxiety), according to
the Center for Disease Control.
This also can lead to further problems later in life. Children who are
subjected to bullying tend to have a higher rate of substance abuse. Bullying
cannot be written off as a “rite of passage” or “part
of growing up.” Bullying can have serious consequences not only
for the victim but also the bully themselves. Bullying is a behavior,
not an identity. Labeling as child as a “bully” can have a
detrimental effect on their future and often limits their ability to change
their behavior (StopBullying.gov, 2016 ).
As adults, we must set examples of what is appropriate and inappropriate
behavior. To access information and strategies to advocate for your child, visit
The National Bullying Prevention Center’s website. Learn how to address and prevent peer to peer bullying and promote kindness,
acceptance, and inclusion.
If your child is experiencing bullying…
If you discover that your child is being bullied, you may feel a variety
of emotions, from anger to fear to sadness. According to
The Center, these reactions and emotional responses are natural for parents who want
their child to feel valued, protected, and loved. To become an effective
advocate for your child, it is important to acknowledge your emotions
and then focus on developing an action plan to help your child.
When you first talk with your child about bullying, be prepared to listen
without judgment, and provide a safe and supportive place where your child
can work out his or her feelings. Children may not be ready to open up
right away as they, too, are dealing with the emotional effects of bullying
and may be feeling insecure, frightened, vulnerable, angry, or sad. When
your child begins to tell their story, just listen and avoid making judgmental
comments. It is important to listen and encourage your child to talk.
Let them know you are there to help and they are not alone.
7 Things to Teach Children About Bullying
- It is NOT their fault. They are not to blame.
- They are NOT alone. You are here to help.
- It is the adults’ responsibility make the bullying stop.
- Bullying is never okay and they have the right to be safe.
- No one deserves to be bullied.
- They deserve to be treated with respect.
- They have the right to feel safe at school.
Create an Action Plan Against Bullying
As a parent looking for solutions, it’s important not only to be
informed, but also to have a plan. Whether your child is being bullied,
witnessing bullying, or bullying others, you can help them
create a plan to change their situation.
By allowing them to help in creating the
action plan, you can build self confidence in your child. These strategies can be
utilized to work with the strengths and abilities your child already has
in place. However, there are certain reactions that the Center recommends to avoid.
Avoid telling your child to stand up to the bully.
This can imply that it is your child’s responsibility to handle the
Do not instruct your child to ignore the bully. More likely than not, your child probably has tried to ignore the bullying.
However, if the bully realizes the victim is intentionally ignoring them,
it could actually further ignite the bullying.
Parents should never
take matters into their own hands.
The Center has found that calling the bully’s parents or directly
confronting the bullying child is ineffective. It also takes the empowerment
of being involved in correcting the situation out of your child’s
hand. Empowering your child is a very important step in the process of
As a society, our youth are our most important asset. It is our responsibility
to make sure bullying is stopped. There is no place for it. Bullying is
about control with the intent to hurt, harm, or humiliate. Teaching respect,
kindness, acceptance, inclusion, and empathy should begin at a very early
age. Instilling these concepts along with messages on tolerance are important
for younger children to learn how to maintain positive relationships.
It is not too late for adults to learn these healthy behaviors as well.
Taking a step back is the most important advice we can give to our extremely
stressed society. Having a conflict or a difference of opinion is not
the same as bullying. We can all disagree on things but it should never
escalate to the level of bullying.
As we move towards 2021, Metzger Wickersham encourages our community to
work together to end bullying and to help build a better society for our