In case you missed it, the Anderson Cooper 360º documentary, “The Bully Effect,” is re-airing Sunday night at 8pm on CNN. AC360º follows the lives of three families since they were featured in Lee Hirch’s film, Bully. The presence of bullying in schools has been getting more and more attention over the years and more schools are developing anti-bullying programs and reinforcing a zero-tolerance policy against bullying. However, it is important to remember that bullying still happens.
So many child victims keep bullying a secret. They don’t want to draw attention to themselves and they don’t want to make matters worse than they already are. The best way to cut down on bullying is to keep awareness alive. The more it’s talked about, the less likely it is to happen and the more likely kids will be to speak up for themselves if it is happening.
Bullying has a huge impact on a child’s self-esteem. The names we are called, the way we are treated, and the hits we may take can stay with us through adulthood. Bullying creates invisible scars (and sometimes visible ones) that don’t heal overnight. Think back on your own childhood. What school experiences have stuck with you? What names do you remember being called? How did the bully or mean kid at your school make you feel? If you dealt with bullies as a kid, chances are you can answer all of these questions with surprising clarity.
Here’s the good news. Children are incredibly resilient and can overcome a lot with the support and protection of loving parents, teachers, friends, and other impactful people. Children need to be encouraged. They need their self-esteem buckets filled on a constant basis. The better a child feels about themselves, the more of a shield they have around them to fight off a bully’s attack. Confidence goes a long way in deterring a bully. Tell your kids what they are good at. Point out their efforts and successes. Never let a day pass when you don’t compliment them on something. Focus on their strengths and not just fixing their weaknesses.
Talk to your kids often. The stronger your relationship with your kid, the more likely they are to come to you when they need you and the more honest they will be with their struggles. Listen intently, validate their struggles and build them up as only you can do as their parent.
To learn more about The Bullying Effect visit the AC360 blog.