Statistics say that over 3 million students per month stay home from school because they are afraid of being bullied. Paul Coughlin says that our kids will take a stand against bullying, but they need our guidance and support.
For starters, we need to create a safe environment to have honest conversations with our children.
“Studies show that most kids do not tell people when they’re being bullied. When they do tell people it is at the end of the school year. They will endure an entire school year of this behavior and then they think that come summer vacation, ‘it’s safe to tell someone.’”
We need to pay attention to sudden changes in a child’s interests and behaviors. He reviews some of the warning signs,
“A kid who used to have some joy and some pleasure of going to school they just don’t want to go anymore, but they’re not telling you why.”
“When a kid starts to become passive aggressive, when he or she wasn’t that way before.”
“Where they’re starting to attack their siblings and they didn’t do it before.”
“Outbursts of anger. Signs of depression. Sleeping too much or sleeping too little. Eating too little or eating too much.”
As adults, we play a pivotal role in preventing and responding to bullying. Paul stresses the importance of helping our kids build friendships,
“Friendships are absolutely key. Bullies go after isolated prey in most cases, most of the time, and when a kid is alone in youth culture it is really a sign of weakness. Weakness invites aggression in youth culture; cruelty is currency in youth culture, including church youth culture.”
“We want to get 3 to 5 friends if at all possible with your kid. Oftentimes, kids that get targeted can be shy so it’s hard for them to make friendships. We need to coach them through that difficult time; we need to help them have more friendships.”
We can point them towards friendships with other kids that are based on shared interests and hobbies.
“If it’s a boy, you’re going to probably have to eat into his video game time – there’s really no way around it. Video games have a way of building some degree of friendships, but they need to be face to face friendships as well.”
Together, we can make a difference by empowering our children to stand up for themselves and take a stand against bullying.
Paul Coughlin is an international speaker, teacher, and author who has been interviewed by Good Morning America and the New York Times, among other media outlets. He is the founder of The Protectors, an anti-bullying organization that helps schools and churches throughout North America, as well as internationally.The Protectors