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Stand Up to Bullying


I remember feeling a deep sense of sadness several years ago when I read the tragic stories in Barbara Coloroso’s “The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander.”  Over the years I’ve heard personal accounts of clients grappling with the devastating effects decades later of being physically or verbally tormented or socially excluded in childhood.  Despite international attention and zero tolerance policies, bullying continues to plague many youth today in our own region and has become even more insidious with the advent of technology and social media.  It is no wonder that left on their own; some children become desperate or even suicidal.

To get help supporting someone at risk, check out

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me.”

Most abuse survivors will tell you that long after physical injuries have healed; it is the emotional wounds of being rejected or put down that leave lasting scars.  Sadly many people internalize critical messages and as a result can be plagued with low self-worth for years to come.  However, as Eleanor Roosevelt exclaimed, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Teaching children at a young age to filter out the negative comments of others and instilling the belief that no one has the right to define their value or worth can go a long way in buffering against the impact of any possible bullying experiences.  Michael Ungar, that children who feel more confident in themselves and their abilities girlsplayingbaseballthrough hobbies, risk taking and mastery experiences inside and outside of the classroom enhance their resiliency.  In their book, “Hold Onto Your Kids”, Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Mate discuss the essential attachment between adult caregivers and children to protect against the unpredictable and conditional nature of peer relationships.  Stan Davis encourages parents to support children in varying degrees depending on the level of impact but to always take a directive role in advocating in urgent situations.  It can be dangerous to normalize or minimize bullying of any kind.  For helpful resources check out: and

And what of the “bully”?

With much necessary attention given to the bullied, we sometimes miss that bullying is often an underlying symptom of a bigger problem.  Systemic in terms of popular media representations of meanness, exclusion and discrimination; bullying may also be a sign of possible abuse or mistreatment in the home.  There could possibly be learning, developmental or even sensory processing issues contributing to aggressive behaviour.  Some of these children are struggling with their own sense of inferiority or insecurity and bring others down in an effort to make themselves feel better.  Punishment alone will not make the problem go away.  I believe we need to start by understanding and treating underlying causes while providing children with opportunities for developing empathy and strengthening resiliency.

What are your thoughts?  Come to our walk-in counselling clinic if you are looking for more help.  Join us on Facebook with your comments.Smile

Nicole Nov 8, 2012

Published inAbuseNon-Violent ChoicesParenting