When we were children, my cousins and I would tease each other. We would single out a sensitive topic, like a body part, and torment each other.
For example, if we thought your head was too big or your feet were ugly, we would make up a name or rhymes to single out our target.
We all have body parts we would like to change. As a child I had long skinny legs. Growing up my cousins would call my legs “bird legs” or “pencils.” Whenever I would wear shorts, they would make fun of my legs. They would go on and on until they found a new target.
Now before you begin to feel sorry for me, I must tell you I was just as guilty as they were. In fact, I was normally the ring leader. I created several legendary “rhymes” that have stood the test of time. When we get together at our family reunions, we still laugh about our childhood names. Although we laugh about it, today our actions may be considered a form of bullying.
So what is the difference between bullying and teasing? According to the dictionary, teasing is a verb and it means to make fun of or attempt to provoke (a person or animal) in a playful way. The American Psychological Association defines bullying as “a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.”
My cousins and I love each other. Our intent was playful; whereas bullies want to push others down to build themselves up. Bullying is a problem we all deal with, from the aggressive coworker to the over bearing boss. However, it is very difficult for our youth to deal with because they lack the tools.
As an educational leader, I unfortunately deal with youth who are being bullied. According to Do Something, Inc., did you know?
- Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
- Approximately 160,000 teens skip school every day because of bullying.
- 17% of American students report being bullied 2 to 3 times a month or more within a school semester.
Bullying is a serious problem. If left unaddressed it can create an open the door to lifelong problems of low self-esteem, depression, poor school performance and the many other negatives that result.
How can you help your child stand up and be counted against bullying? Teach your child to:
- Help others by lifting them up
- Be confident in who they are
- Pick up others who may be dealing with bullying
Bullies want to push others down. However, we can stop bullying when we all stand up together.
Are you equipping you your child to stand up and be counted?
Kim D. Moore
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