Everywhere we turn there are stories of bullying. Children crying to stay home from school. Teens turning to drugs. Some even go so far as to take their own lives to end the torment. It is saddening and terrifying for parents everywhere as they send their progeny off to class each day, hoping their child will make it through the pain.
Numerous campaigns and awareness movements have arisen to combat this bullying epidemic. All over the country celebrities and media are pushing causes to cure this societal ail. While some are focused on harsher punishments, others try to offer love and compassion for the bullies.
Each of these campaigns, however, overlooks one very key point: Nothing is changing.
Children are still bullying. Children are still dying.
No one is looking at the one thing that needs to be practiced in order to end the bullying epidemic:
You can only control yourself.
When a child is being bullied, think about the solutions which are offered: encourage the children to tell teachers and ask the parents to file formal complaints to school administrators (over and over again).
What is the hope in both of these scenarios? That someone else will fix the problem. We are asking one person or a group of people to control another individual on our behalf, never considering the impossibility of this task.
There is only one sure fire way to control another human being: bullying.
And so the solution of the education staff is to implement harsher punishments. This is a nicer way of saying “bully the bullies.” Most children (and adults) bully because something is wrong or they themselves have been treated poorly. Treating them worse is only going to worsen the problem. Few, by the time they reach full-blown bully status are going to respond to school-enforced punishments and the majority of the time, it is absurd to ask the staff to implement them. And to hope that school administration can offer the necessary love and support to turn children around is an unrealistic task that no staff could fulfill.
In the end, the parents are upset because the school did not do enough. The bully continues to bully, though usually feeling worse and bullying harsher. The school administration can say they have done all they can do and are now legally free and clear. The bullied child continues to suffer and be a victim at the hands of all involved.
Let’s now look at a scenario that is focused on controlling oneself instead of asking for control of others:
The best way to do this is to consider this in an adult situation. What would you do if you were being terrorized incessantly at the office and no matter whom you told, the situation did not improve and sometimes worsened? Some may say that they would do nothing. They feel they have no choice, no other job options and are stuck in torment as a victim. But remaining a victim would be their choice. Others would choose to find a way. They would recognize that they have control over their lives and they would do everything they could to find joy, including leaving the job and the bully behind.
In most cases, self-control is removed from the child as they are forced to go to school by parents and law alike and therefore are left with no other options than to tell those who do have control. Those who do have control are the parents. Imagine that they focus their efforts only on the areas they can control; themselves and their child’s situation. They recognize that they cannot stop someone else’s poor behavior and they cannot expect others to do so either.
Thus they are left with one option: remove themselves. Find another school. Homeschool. Look for alternative education programs and groups. Research, research, research until they find a better option. There are always better options, especially when your child’s life may be in danger.
In the end, the parents and children are no longer victims. They have taken control of their own lives, as is all we can do, and have chosen to make improvements.
Ending bullying is a myth. The entire premise is based on controlling that which we cannot control, rendering ourselves victims for life. But ending victimhood is a reality. Only when we can recognize what is within our control and control it can we step out of that role and help our children to do the same.
So let’s step out of the mythical world and into reality. Only then can we save our children from this national epidemic.