Ending Bullying? It Starts at Home

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By Ejiria Walker, PQ Monthly
Bullying.  It was part of growing up, right?  Twenty years ago it was considered an everyday normal thing to be teased and bullied.  It made us tough and able to handle the real world. It was expected to make us stronger and to tolerate more in life.  It was common place to dismiss bully claims and chalk it up to sensitive children. Things have drastically changed.  Unfortunately, that mind frame still exists in several parts of the world and it has led us to hundreds of youth harming themselves every year.  This has forced us to take a look at the environment our youth are in and how we can put an end to bullying. The first step is talking to our children and educating them that we all have differences.  Each person should be cherished and honored for those differences. Teach them to  be open and caring for our fellow human.  Let them know it's ok to be curious and ask questions in a respectful manner.  Let them know there is no such thing as "normal" and we should embrace others openly. Children are going to be curious about things that are not in their normal routine.  I think it's a good idea to take them to play groups where there is a diversity of children.  Children of many ethnic backgrounds, children of different abilities, and children with different backgrounds should all play together.  If children are around a diverse group, they are less likely to mock an individual due to their differences. The next step is to keep the lines of communication open.  Let your children know that you want to talk to them about their lives.  Show them you have an interest in their lives.  The more involved in your child's life you are, the less likely they will be prone to feeling alienated and rejected.  Ask them about their day at school.  Ask if they are interested in any specific subject or activity.  Talk to them about your day and make them a part of the conversation. Be a part of their lives.  Many schools have PTA and site councils.  Becoming a part of these organizations is a great way to stay connected and to be involved.  Volunteering for their sports and community teams is a good way too.  Show that you take an interest in their life and that you cherish their interests. Help to build their self esteem.  Cheer them on and let them know you are proud of them.  High fives, fist bumps, and OH YEAHs are the easiest thing to do when you want to show your little one you are behind them 100 percent of the way. Being an active part of your child's world and showing your support of them will not only help build the self confidence needed to thwart off bully attacks but it also helps prevent them from being a bully.
EjiriaEjiria Walker is a queer femme mama living in Portland. She is a military veteran, social rights activist, and dedicated mother to her child. Ejiria is involved in PTA and the site council at her child's school.  She also is a healthcare professional and lover of the outdoors.