Tuesday, August 24, 2010
There are great experts doing fantastic work to help prevent bullying in schools.
But from what I see, home is where it's at. Most parents can't control everything that happens in school and not all schools are able to handle the many subtle and not so subtle bullying episodes.
So what can a parent do? I've read many studies and listened to many experts but the one piece of advice that is usually missing is perhaps the most simple.
First and foremost, explain to your child at an early age that he/she should never BE the bully. Most parents assume their child will never try to be mean but, whether we like it or not, there's a bit of human nature at play.
Even nice kids try to flex their muscles. Don't assume that your "little cupcake" will only be the victim.
And that goes for cyber bullying as well. When a child -- no matter what age -- is introduced to the computer, there needs to be firm rules on computer etiquette. If kids were told by parents that being mean online will have consequences and if parents followed through, things would improve. What kind of consequences? You pick it and it's whatever works for you.
The Family Online Safety Institute and Common Sense Media, among other organizations, provide a family media agreement that you and your child can read, sign together and post near the computer. It's brilliant because it's in black and white.
Once rules are in place, go and enjoy your little cupcake.