Bullying is a repeated negative behavior that takes advantage of a less-powerful person

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This time of the year is usually camp week for a lot of international and ESF schools in Hong Kong.  The school’s intention of introducing and promoting to our children a whole range of life skills including independence, collaboration, social interactions, to name just a few, in a camp setting has to be the highlight of the entire academic year in my opinion.  I am certain that our children shared the same enthusiastic opinion. Among these well worth learning life skills, I hold strong the view that learning how to interact with one another socially with respect, compassion and loyalty is a skill that has a first and foremost importance.  Why? Because it is a skill that will enable our children to face and deal with the act of ‘bullying’ positively and confidently.

Bullying is a repeated negative behavior that takes advantage of a less-powerful person. Hitting, name calling, ignoring and shaming are all forms of bullying. So are spreading rumors, gossiping and making threats online.

So many of us, both child and parent alike, suffer in silence out of fear of public disclosure, or fear of social embarrassment, or fear of scorn.  These fears we carried not only stop us from protecting our children but they also stop us from tackling this mean-spirited and pointless behavior. The acts of bullying are far beyond an isolated incident or unique anymore in school.  Bullying is becoming a culture and an epidemic that is spreading in every corner of the school. Research found that bullying is a common problem worldwide, affecting about 1 in 5 school-aged children.

I believe as parents, we all know that just because our children are not suffering at this very moment from bullying, it does not means it won’t happen at some future point.  If we turn away, and somehow feel that because it is not happening to our children that this is not a relevant topic to us, we ought to think twice. Let’s not underestimate the power and the impact of school bullying.

We all want a safe and nurturing learning environment for our children in school.  Our children should NOT be afraid of coming to school and our children should NOT feel inadequate amongst their peers.  Bullying offers nothing but negativity, and detracts from the culture we want to install. There are many well-documented research papers (too numerous to cover but have included a few here), on the health and psychological effects of bullying on children. Those effects linger for much longer than just the period of the bullying, but haunt the child as he or she grows into adulthood.

How does bullying affect health and well-being?

Effects of Bullying

The Psychological Effects of Bullying on Kids & Teens

10 Ways to Prevent School Bullying

If, in turn we create an open and judgment-free environment or forum where anyone can open up, we may all be surprised how common this bullying phenomena is, and how helpful it would be to feel that no-one is alone in their sadness or misery. It is only through sharing of our own stories that we can support each other as in unity there is strength. A lone voice can quickly become a chorus, and the more we speak up as one group, the more likely positive change can be made.  As parents we have the responsibility to protect our children, to stand up for our children and to guide them along the way. They look up to us, they trust us, and they count on us.

We all have our part to play in stamping out this virulent behavior. There are a number of ways that we can deal with bullying and that include raising awareness through school newsletters; educating our children through workshops on the teaching of moral values and supporting parents through having PTA to host seminars and organize small groups for parents to share their experiences. If all parties (school, parents and students) work and support each other, there’s no reason why bullying can’t be stopped. 

 

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Sandy Sinn-Hussey

Motherhood has been a long journey for me. Being a single mother for twelve years, I have learned the importance of mother and child's relationship. Raising children is a lifelong career and require patience, perseverance and love.

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