Is Anti-Bullying Making Our Kids Soft?

As I sat by the poolside watching my kids playing and splashing in the water, I noticed my son getting upset with a little boy, and they ended up fighting in the water. At the same time, I noticed his brother and my daughter getting into it. The boy kicked my daughter in the stomach and tried to climb out the side of the pool.  My daughter pulled him back into the water, and punched him in the face. I looked at the boy’s father, who was watching but not saying anything, and I quickly scolded them.

While I did scold all four of them for fighting in the water, I scolded the dad for not doing anything.  That could’ve turned into a much more dangerous situation.  I must say that even in my displeasure at the situation, I was very proud that my kids stood up for themselves, and didn’t allow themselves to be bullied.  Both of the boys were older than my kids.

It made me think about the anti-bullying campaigns that I often hear about. The question I ask myself is when did bullying become what it is now? I remember growing up, we were taught if someone hits you, you hit them back even harder.  Whether parents agree with this or not, it’s how most in my generation grew up.  What was different between then and now is the amount of access our kids now have to each other through all of the different social networks.

When I was growing up, we had dial up AOL as our main social network.  Nowadays they have Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, KIK, Twitter, and I’m sure plenty more that I can’t think of right now. Kids are now being cyber-bullied on a completely new level. Is it that we failed to prepare our kids to be able to handle conflict? Is it that our kids are softer nowadays?  Or has this new generation of kids taken bullying a whole new level?

We’re seeing more and more young kids commit suicide that we learn stems from bullying and/or cyber-bullying.  I always question if the parents knew, but brushed it off thinking it was old school bullying they were used to. Or were the parents monitoring the social accounts, or did they miss that?  Were there open lines of conversation between the parent and the child? To what degree were these children being bullied? And why don’t the bully’s parents know what their child is doing?

These are all questions that go through my mind…and then I’m reminded that all children are different. Where bullying wouldn’t bother one child, to another it may completely destroy them, and even traumatize them for years to come.  As a parent, we have to learn that sometimes, even when we try our best, we may miss some things, make the wrong choices, and sometimes have to accept that some things are out of our hands.

The best we can do is keep those lines of communication open, address your child when you notice behavior changes, and if your child says they’re being bullied, take it seriously. Address all issues so your child knows you have their back, and they’re not alone. We can try our best, but we can’t protect our children from the world.  However, we can show and prove to them that we are behind them 100%, we support and love them, and when needed are willing to go to bat for them.

Have you or your children experienced bullying? How was it handled? We’d love to hear.

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