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Bullying! Is it Normal child behavior?




Maybe bullying was always normal child behavior!

bully girls

But behavior problems like bullying can take a heavy toll on a child’s life.  Many will disagree and claim it is harmless.  But for some children physical bullying, mental bullying, even verbal bullying can leave permanent scars that will lead to an unhappy, un-healthy life in adulthood.  Bullying is not always obvious threats of real or perceived physical harm.  Sometimes it can be very subtle.  Take rejection for example.  Imagine being completely rejected by everyone at school.  Imagine not having a single friend.  That is reality for some kids.

The kids who completely reject others in this manner appear to lack empathy.  Granted children are essentially ego-centric, but developmentally, by the time they reach middle school, they really ought to be able to empathize enough to refuse to engage in this kind of abuse.  The reaction of parents certainly does play a role.

Un-happiness in the home will teach behavior that will be taken into adulthood and passed on to the next generation.

the bully victim

The bully victim!

Empathy needs to be modeled at home for children to practice it outside of the home.  It is not a big surprise that the parents of typically developing children who engage in this type of mean spirited behavior, are often highly critical of others.  The emphasis needs to be on “typically developing” children because there are some “disorders” that interfere with a child’s ability to empathize with others.  Even the healthiest surroundings do not seem to have an affect on children with ADHD or on the Autism Spectrum in general.  They may have difficulty with empathy, and they are often the child who suffers rejection.

Children who engage in bullying activities, be it rejection, ridicule, physical threats or aggression, suffer from low self esteem themselves.  Children and teens who has a healthy self esteem and experience a healthy lifestyle at home, simply do not find it amusing or fun to see another child suffer.   The lower the self esteem, the greater role they play in bullying.

Is bullying normal only for kids who live in an unhealthy environment?

the pain of childhood

The pain of childhood!

A child or teen who engages in occasional teasing of another child or teen is not a bully.  When a child or teen teases another child with the intent to cause emotional pain, it becomes bullying. It can be difficult to establish boundaries for bullying.   Some kids may bully once or twice and that may be within what is considered “normal” boundaries, not unlike a child who tries stealing once cannot be called a “thief”.  Kids test boundaries.  It is how they learn.  That is not to say that the behavior should be ignored.  Correction is required to ensure the offender understands the consequences of his/her actions.  A lot depends on the background and lifestyle that children accept as normal in homes where the line between discipline and bullying is blurred.

For the repeat offenders, it is important to punish bullying activities.  But it is equally important to address the underlying issues.  Again, a child who persistently engages in behavior designed to cause another pain, is suffering from low self esteem and possibly other issues.  The cause can come from an un-healthy lifestyle in the home.   Parents of these children MUST be involved to successfully correct the issues.  If they are unaware, it is up to the victim’s parents or school personnel to make the offender’s parents aware of their child’s bullying activities.

Zero ToleranceNo bully zone

Adults need to promote an acceptable healthy lifestyle in the home and to be aware of what goes on in their child’s life outside the home.  Most adults, certainly in the school, are aware of who the social outcasts are.  These are the children who need to be protected.  That means adults need to watch over them.  These children need opportunities to shine and the adults who share the environment can, and should, set up situations that will ensure that outcast children are included, accepted, and praised.We often hear that a school has a zero tolerance policy when it comes to bullying.  What does that mean exactly?  Technically, it should mean that bullying won’t happen, but that is not realistic. If adults wonder is bullying normal in their children’s school environment, how can they help?

Physical Education should be to foster a healthy lifestyle by promoting healthy, physical activity.  When a bullied outcast child is forced to compete in class, they withdraw even more.  Their skill development declines over time right along with their confidence.  They are often the kids who truly need the physical training, yet they so often become the ones who don’t get it.

bully boys

Bully boys!

A good example is in gym class.  Outcast children are often physically inferior to their classmates.  Adults must change their thinking if they hold any notion that bullying is a normal part of growing up.  It may well be, in that it has gone on for centuries and likely will continue to occur, but just as children need to be trained in other areas, they need to be trained in social interaction and learn behavior they can one day pass on to their own children.  It is not acceptable to knowingly inflict pain on others.  That should never be tolerated and it should never be ignored.  choose teams, the outcast child is usually chosen last.  They are the ones who are left out of team sports, even in gym class.  In their efforts to foster healthy children and a healthy lifestyle, gym teachers should not allow discrimination in the class. A good teacher can accomplish that without drawing obvious attention to the child.  For example – the teacher can choose the teams.  Rather than playing competitive games, gym class can focus on individual skill development.  There are plenty of other opportunities for competition outside the physical education class.

Observing and Reporting



Just as most adults in the school environment know who is being bullied,  they also know who is doing the bullying.  Some bullies are discreet however, and adults need to keep a watchful eye when kids interact.  A  healthy lifestyle doesn’t just happen.  It is developed over time, both in the home and in school.  In class when a teacher identifies an outcast, they should make a point to choose an appropriate partner whenever pairs are required.  They should not stand by and allow the outcast child the humiliation of not being chosen.  Teachers should report bullies, even when the offenses seem minor.  Let the offending child know that their behavior is unacceptable, and let the victim know that he or she will be protected from abuse.  Teachers need to report to school superiors and to the parents of the children involved.  A zero tolerance policy should mean ZERO.

Much has been written about children and teens who are exposed to an un-healthy lifestyle on the internet.  That’s why it is important that adults, namely parents and guardians, are reading their children’s online posts.  Social networks have become another venue for bullies.  It enables them to continue their bullying and abuse outside of school.  Many parents are completely unaware of their children’s online activities.  This is a very big parenting mistake.  As indicated in another article, Children on the Internet, children pose a risk to themselves, but they may also be perpetrators or victims of bullying other children online.  Parents need to stop worrying about their children’s privacy.  Privacy is an earned privilege that comes with maturity.  Until parents are certain that their child is behaving appropriately online, privacy should not be considered.

Learn the Technology

learning for kids

Learning for kids!

Before they can monitor their children’s online activities, parents need to learn the technology.  Truly, it is not that complicated. If children have accounts on Facebook, parents should too.  Insist your child has you as a “friend”. That will enable you to monitor their “wall”.  A child who doesn’t want to do this is not mature enough to have an account. Parents may not be able to control a healthy lifestyle environment for their kids outside of home, but they can certainly stop any un-healthy lifestyle, activities while they are online at home.

Being able to see the child’s “wall” will give valuable insight into what’s going on, but it’s only part of the story.  If parents have suspicions that a child is either a perpetrator or a victim of bullying, they need to be able to see the child’s “inbox”.  This is where the so called “private” conversations take place.  There is also an ‘instant chat’ that is more difficult to monitor.  These are different worlds your child can access and they can often lead to un-healthy lifestyle encounters.  That’s why you must have access to your child’s  inbox, to their accounts and to their email.  Again, as a parent, you have a right to demand access.  Just as you may from time to time search your child’s bedroom, and school officials will check their locker. Responsible parenting demands you inspect your child’s inbox.

Don’t ask is bullying normal. Ask how we can make it ab-normal!

Some parents may find it necessary to learn how to “hack” into their child’s email or facebook account.  There may be ‘how to’ guides out there now, but if not, there certainly will be in the future as demand for it increases.  Parents and children alike may find benefit in joining this page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/HowToStopBullying

Insiders advise that this page will become a good source for parents seeking information and help for their children, both perpetrators and victims.  The bottom line is that bullying is a problem that will require all sides coming together to develop solutions to keep all kids safe.  We should never have to ask again; Is bullying normal for kids.

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