A huge percentage of kids don't tell an adult when they're being bullied. Fox News' story, "Why Bully Victims Suffer In Silence" prompted me to repost an interview I did several months ago with a very wise teenager. Bottom line, for so many kids, telling an adult doesn't help. In fact, so many times it makes it worse.
If the main piece of advice we give kids is "tell an adult," then we better kick it into gear and start funding training from Pre-K and up.
This is what a very wise high school student told me several months ago:
Rashidat Encarnacion participated in last year's Family Online Safety Conference (FOSI). She was one of a group of Girl Scouts asked to be on a panel moderated by Marsali Hancock, President of iKeepSafe, a well-respected national online safety organization. The panel was a chance to hear about online safety issues from the perspective of teens. I was very impressed with the girls' comments, and in particular, with then 16 year-old Rashidat's sage advice.
Sometimes 'friends' on Facebook are not your friends. Know the difference and don't 'friend' anyone you can't trust.
Believe it or not, as fate (happily) would have it, I ran into Rashidat several months later. I asked her if she could explain why kids don't tell an adult when they've been bullied. This is what she said:
Well, I feel children do not tell their parents because they are afraid of the way their parents will react to the situation. Maybe the parents’ reaction to the situation can cause further bullying of the child. Personally, when I was bullied in school the bullying would cease for a little bit. Then it would become worse than before, because I decided to tell an adult. Not only that but we want to feel independent …so we don't want to tell our parents about what's going on, especially things that are hurting us. In other situations pertaining to bullying, it can seem like a sign of weakness when you tell an adult. I remember fellow classmates calling me a "tattle-tale" and not wanting to hang around me if I told a teacher about someone else or myself being bullied. That is also another reason - the child being bullied does not want to lose their friends. Therefore, they keep quiet and do not tell others when they are bullied.
There are numerous reasons why children do not want to talk with their parents about bullying. When children do approach an adult, the adults should not pressure the children. If the child feels that there is no reason to worry, they feel that their situation is under control. Maybe you should respect your child’s wishes and not make a big deal of the problem.
At the same time, do not take the issue lightly. No matter what, you are the parent and you have the right to intervene in your child’s problem when it is necessary.
Like it or not, these comments are real and represent one of the core issues. Kids should not be left alone in their misery but this will continue to happen until there are many more trained adults that kids can trust. States, such as New Jersey, are slowly waking up to the fact that bullying laws don't work if they don't require high quality training for schools.