The Levittown Moms Council is a panel of local mothers you can chat with every Wednesday on Levittown Patch. Each week these four ladies tackle a new parenting question and ask you to join the conversation by leaving your own comments.
This week's reader-submitted question is: What would you recommend a parent do if their child is being bullied? What if you find out that your child is the one doing the bullying?
If another parent confided to me that his or her child was being bullied, I would no doubt recommend bringing the issue to the proper authority. If bullying happens to take place during school hours, a teacher, assistant principal or principal needs to know. I would also recommend that the child, along with his or her parent, bring the matter to the proper venue. Allow the children involved to tell their stories. Hopefully, they will have a chance to confront the truth together. Problems cannot be solved with only one party and one version of the story.
At times, bullying takes place in a neighborhood, sometimes even on one’s own street. In this case, it is of my opinion that a child and parent should meet with whoever is doing the bullying. A parent mediating could allow each child to express his or her version of what they have experienced. One thing that I have noticed is if a child is mean-spirited, usually that behavior has been allowed to go on for a long time without being corrected by an adult. Let’s face it-- parenting is a difficult job, but a parent who is lax about teaching a child right from wrong and “lets things go”, really is making their job so much harder for themselves and encouraging unwanted behavior in their own child.
I always have this on my mind about my kids, if they would tell me when they are bullied and how would I take it. I do tell them if it does happen to make sure they tell the teachers or come to us to let us know. I am glad the schools have taken on the responsibility of addressing bullying with the kids. I think they should have more information out there for the kids and have the bullies have a consequence for their actions. It should be addressed with tougher punishment for the participants of the bullying.
Take it seriously if you find out your child is being bullied. If possible ask their older sibling or friend to give you some insight on what’s going on at school; maybe they know something. Definitely tell them to use the buddy system. Bullies usually will not attack when you are with a friend.
Unfortunately, my daughter was the target of bullying two years ago and my first instinct was to contact the school. After speaking with the principal on two separate occasions (there was a repercussion the first time when the child retaliated against my daughter for telling on her), the bullying stopped. At that time, we took the situation seriously. My daughter was being threatened by an older, much bigger child. We had feared that my daughter might be physically hurt by this bully.
If your child is in elementary school, contact the teacher first. If you see the bullying continuing, then contact the principal. Do not back down in defending and/or protecting your child. Remember, your child is the one that is being attacked.
Now, if you find out that your child is the one doing the bullying, you must take that seriously too. You have to let your child know that it’s not acceptable and then make your child apologize to the other child. Make sure you follow up with your child to make sure that he or she has stopped the bullying.
Teaching your child kindness and compassion starts with you as a parent. You are their role model and you need to stay consistent with it. Teaching your child to treat people the way they want to be treated will ensure a change in them.
Kathleen Vaughan Ware
In the mid-1970s, my parents decided the Bronx was not where they wanted to raise six girls. Annually increasing costs of parochial school tuition and the fact that our extended family had already left for Long Island played a huge part in their decision, so off to the suburbs we went. No longer would my sisters and I take the subway and mass transit to school, instead, we would experience something new - a big yellow school bus.
I will forever remember my first year on the bus. I was in 7th grade, my sister in 8th. The bus transported neighborhood junior high school students in grades 7 to 9. My sister was extremely shy and quite petite, and one particular boy, Robert, decided he would torment her at any chance he could. Robert was very tall, or at least appeared to be, as I was a mere 5 feet and 2 inches. He would tease almost anyone he could, but more often than not my sister was his victim. She would well up in tears on a daily basis and dreaded that eight minute ride to and from school.
One cold winter afternoon, we boarded the bus to take us home, and as usual, Robert began to shoot his mouth off. What happened next would change the remainder of our bus ride forever. I turned around, looked up at him, stared him dead in the eye and said “Knock it off”. Robert appeared stunned for a minute, and the bus fell silent. Sensing an audience, he pointed a long, bony finger in my face and snidely replied, “What are YOU going to do about it?” I clenched my fingers into a fist, jumped as high as I could and planted one right on his mouth.
Down went Robert holding his bloody mouth, and suddenly, the bus erupted into cheers. The bus came to a stop and I quickly exited with my sister, adrenaline pumping through my veins. My sister, forever the tattle-tale, ran into the house and blurted out, “Kathleen punched Robert in the face!” Unsure of how my parents would react, I remained silent. They knew the cruelness of Robert’s remarks, and had conversations with the principal on several occasions. As I studied their expressions, the doorbell rang. There stood a bleeding Robert with his father. “Look at what your daughter did to my son!” he yelled. My father, all 6 feet and 4 inches of him, got up from his recliner, and said, “Tell your son to keep his mouth shut from now on”, and closed the door. He then looked at my hand and said, “Go get some ice on that before it blows up even more”.
I think if a parent were to find out their child is the bully, such as in Robert’s case, consequences should be enforced immediately. Taking away a favorite toy or no television along with an apology might be a good start.
Robert never bullied my sister or anyone else again on the bus. In fact, most days his parents drove him to school. And while I do not condone violence, I think sometimes, a kid has to take matters into her own hands...