When Your Child is the Bully: Five Important Issues to Address
February 12th, 2013 posted by Derek Randel
“The phone rang one night last week and it was Mr. Scott, my son’s math teacher. He was informing me that my son, Ben, was hitting other students and even threatened Mr. Scott. In our home, we do not like this math teacher very much because he is always picking on Ben. Why would my son bully anyone? We are an affluent and loving family.”
If a teacher calls home with these concerns, should a parent be upset with the teacher? Should they immediately take their child’s side? Why would they listen to a teacher and assume that the teacher is correct? Unfortunately, this is what is happening too often. Maybe we should consider there might be some truth in what the teacher is calling you about. If your child’s teacher calls telling you that your child is bullying others and threatening the teacher, then this needs to be a wake up call.
I would recommend to any parent if they’re told their child is a bully to look for the following: Uncontrolled anger, history of discipline problems, intolerance for differences, violent or aggressive behavior, expression of violence in writings or drawings, cruelty to animals, and destruction of property. These are just a few of numerous telling behaviors.
Threatening a teacher should get your attention and get the child expelled. Over a five-year period in the United States, 1.3 million teachers were victims to non-fatal crimes at school. This is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. In Ontario, Canada, 40% of teachers report being bullied by students. In Finland, nearly one in five Finnish teachers and one in three principals are targeted with bullying and mental violence by students’ parents. In the United Kingdom, 61% of teachers have experienced verbal insults and threats and 34% had been subjected to “physical aggression”. This is a serious problem that no parent should take lightly.
Five steps to take:
1. Discuss the topic of firearms
The easy access to firearms has led to numerous school shootings and accidental shootings. It would seem like a common sense move to keep them away from children. Unfortunately, this is not always possible. You must talk to your child about this topic. Owning a gun is fine. However, they need to be locked and placed in a secure location. Having trigger locks is also a good idea. The topic MUST be brought up in discussions with your children.
2. Control the amount of violent television shows and video games.
There’s evidence that people become less sensitive to violence after observing it over and over. When children play violent video games for an extended period of time, the following can occur:
- Tendency to be more aggressive
- More likely to have confrontation with their teachers
- Possibly encourage fights with their peers
- Decline in school achievements
- Increases in aggressive behavior because violent acts are continually repeated throughout the video game. Repetition has long been considered an effective teaching method in reinforcing learning patterns.
The interactive quality of video games differs from passively viewing television or movies because it allows players to become active participants in the game’s script. Players are rewarded for their violent acts by moving up levels resulting in playing for longer time periods.
3. Parenting skills can be addressed
Most of the time, bullies are also victims and it could be coming from the home. Are you, your spouse, or a sibling a bully at home? Does your child frequently get criticized at home? Does he/she get spanked or hit? Is there an abusive parent in the home? Does anyone yell or use name-calling or put-downs? Many times we do not recognize the habits we have. However, addressing our parenting can make life much more enjoyable for all.
4. Address supervision
Is there a lack of supervision at home? Maybe the child has too much time alone. Children get into more trouble between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. because of having too much free time. Limit your child’s unsupervised time. Also, spend more time with your child and their friends by inviting their friends over while you’re home.
5. Work with the schools, not against the schools
Meet with school officials. Let them know there is a problem and ask them, “How can we work together to solve this?” Realize this may just be a wake up call that should be stopped before it becomes a huge habit. Working together with the teacher and principal should be more helpful than working against each other and passing the blame. This is extremely important because we won’t have to face this situation alone. They may have dealt with this topic numerous times in the past.
Yes, your child could be a bully. We want to prepare our children for the real world and not protect them from it. Bailing your child out from consequences can lead to you needing to bail him out of jail in the future. Students must be held accountable for their actions.