Teachable Moments: Bully

by Nicole Hempeck on May 9, 2021

Recently, the movie Bully was released to much anticipation and conversation on the topic, because it has become such an epidemic in our country. And when I say epidemic, I don’t say it lightly. We have young children feeling so disheartened and at a loss for hope that they are willing to take their own lives. It is heart wrenching.

At one time, kids were once able to escape bullies at school or on the bus for the comfort of their homes, but they are now exposed to technology that connects them to their bullies 24 hours a day. They can no longer get away if the bully chooses to make it their mission to hound them day in and day out.

Bullying is such a frustrating issue in our schools and neighborhoods, and with cyber-bullying being added into that mix it makes it so much more intense for the kids who are being bullied, because it allows the bullies to become that much more powerful in their pursuit of control.

I can’t imagine as a parent how I’m going to feel if my daughters, who are now just a bit too young to experience this level of bullying, ever go through this. Let alone how they will feel and how we will navigate the experience together.

My first instinct is to just run from it and pull them out of school. When I hear of administrators and teachers being passive, it infuriates me. I am a teacher. I worked in the public school systems for years and I know that there are some things we have control over and there are ways we can intervene.

I also know that we can’t be present for each and every encounter. I also know that there are some teachers and employees who choose to be ignorant to it all and who take the “kids will be kids” mantra. It’s an imperfect scenario with no clear cut answer.

The truth is, it will take a village to solve this problem. It will take the efforts of all.

The truth is,  it is escalating and with Facebook and Twitter and texting, our kids have access to one another 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is our responsibility as parents to be on top of them.

We cannot put this solely on the teachers and bus drivers and counselors. It is our responsibility, too. It is our responsibility at a young age to teach them how to respect and honor the feelings of one another. It is our responsibility to teach them how to speak up for themselves and how to communicate to an individual who is being cross with them. It is our responsibility to make them feel safe so they will come to us when they are feeling like they aren’t being heard at school, so we can advocate on their behalf when teachers and administrators may be failing them.

If we choose to turn a blind eye, if we choose to let our children make bad choices and hurt one another, if we choose to not watch over their day-to-day activities online and otherwise - we may be missing key signs that they are being bullied or we may be missing key signs that they are in fact the bully themselves! Yes, that too, is possible.

Be mindful. Use this movie, as your kids are of the right age, as a teachable moment - as a conversation starter so they can develop a sense of empathy and understanding for others.

Empower your kids to stand up for others and for themselves as best as they can. Advocate for your kids AND hold your kids accountable if they hurt someone else. It’s our responsibility to guide them through this time and use movies like Bully to help us teach them how to be someone who lifts others up rather than bringing them down.

Images: Bully Project

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  • http://32in32.com Pauline

    Bullying is a huge problem. Thank you for drawing attention to this.

  • Julie C.

    Even if you think you have an open line of communication with your child, especially a pre-teen or young teen, they will not generally talk about this subject willingly. It took me months to find out my child was in a situation where it began very subtly and grew until it began to change his demeanor before we guessed something was up. It took two days and hours of conversation to get the whole story out.

    Dealing with a bully is hard, even for adults. It is very difficult to teach our children to stand up for what they need, and for others to back them up when they see it happening. How do you deal with an obnoxious co-worker who loves to see you squirm or fail? Do you just ignore them and do your work, hoping they’ll leave you alone? That’s exactly how our kids react. We need to drum that message home that they can tell us everything so that we can help them cope and resolve the issue.

  • http://www.motherhoodismessy.com Motherhood is Messy

    My husband was an elementary teacher and now a principal so we have seen bullying from both sides. Parents need to instill compassion in their children from a young age and remain vigilant. Teacher’s have to be their students advocate while they are under their care. It shouldn’t be so difficult for our society to be kind to each other but with all the wounded people I guess it is.

  • http://www.mommywithselectivememory.blogspot.com/ Mommy With Selective Memory

    I am so dreading this period!  I have been reading a lot about how giving our children plenty of time to play with other kids without interfering when they are young can really develop the skills they need to ward off bullies (Lenore Skenazy wrote a great book about this called A Nation of Wimps).  It’s really hard though to know where the line is between interfering and just teaching good lessons on how to behave.  Either way, I am just hoping my kids attend a good school where the kids are nice!! :-)

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