When we think of a bully, many of us tend to picture the big kid on the playground, the one who goes after the shy and the scrawny, intimidating them into giving up their lunch money through the sheer power of his size. Unfortunately, bullies come in all shapes and sizes these days, and bullying can impact any of us — often when we least expect it.

Bullying: It's Everywhere

According to the American Psychological Association, bullying is defined as "a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort." DoSomething.org reports that "over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying every year."

Bullying isn't limited to just school children, either. Adults aren't immune to being bullied, and many parents have learned the hard way how difficult it can be to cope with a bully. When a mom is bullied for her choice to breastfeed on the cover of a national magazine, for example, we're perpetuating a cycle of judgement and intolerance that inevitably harms our children.

"A lot of times, I think parents are unaware of the insidious ways they introduce bullying and intolerance for others to their children," writes Jamie Lynn Grumet in regards to the cruelty directed at her and her son after they appeared on the now infamous Time cover.

Adults set poor examples for kids in other ways too. Recently, a group of mom bloggers cried "bully" when called upon to defend their choice to support a controversial fast food campaign, though in this instance it's a clear misuse of the term. Why teach our kids to hide behind rhetoric and embrace a victim mentality, when we could instead demonstrate how to advocate for ourselves and, more importantly, own the choices we've made?

Tips for Fighting Back Against Bullies

Fortunately, most adults possess the conflict resolution skills and coping mechanisms necessary to deal with genuine bullying — or know when it's time to simply walk away. Kids, on the other hand, often don't know how to fight back. So what can we do to help them?

  • Set a positive example. Do you demonstrate kindness toward others in your daily life? Use constructive criticism when disagreements arise? Advocate for yourself when necessary?
     
  • Talk about bullying with your kids. Use resources like KidsHealth.org and StopBullying.gov to foster discussion.
     
  • Embrace technology. As much as we complain about cell phones, these devices can also provide a degree of protection. Apps can be tremendously effective at alerting parents to problems related to cyber bullying.
     
  • Sign the Take Part pledge, which is designed to raise awareness and put an end to bullying once and for all. As adults, we can either continue to be part of the problem, or change our ways and choose to be part of the solution. Don't you think it's time we chose the latter?

Have you or your children struggled with bullying? Will you sign the Take Part pledge?

 

 

Disclosure: This article is sponsored by TakePart.