As a parent and relationship expert and psychotherapist for 19 years, I will tell you that if you have not seen the YouTube video where middle school children relentlessly taunted, bullied an adult female bus monitor to the point where she was in tears, buckle up for this one, it is painful to watch. I provide talk therapy for couples, families, individuals (youth and adults) and I will share with you my readers, it is far too often that the bullying experience is reported. This topic continues to be of relevancy in many lives. This morning I appeared on FOX 25 News Boston where I discussed this particular video. If you missed my live interview with morning news anchor Sorboni Banerjee you may watch it now on demand. Below you will find today’s blog article in my desire to further expand upon the main talking points and help parents to educate their children about bullying. Is your child a bully, been bullied, a bystander, or a stand-up?
- What is wrong with kids in this type of situation who would behave like this?
- They thrive on the imbalance of power
- They take pleasure in witnessing another’s hurt and they have intent to harm
- They have no empathy nor compassion
- They count on the bystanders to become involved in participating or supporting the bullying, or at least doing nothing about it
- Why would a bus monitor take this abuse?
Often a bus monitor is under the philosophical belief that if she ignores the behavior it will go away. If you notice she tries this approach and when it does not work through relentless taunting she tries to be an educator and stated; “if you don’t have something nice to say don’t say it”. When that method did not work she tried to appeal to their empathy by verbalizing to them that she is crying. When that did not work she tried to use a threat. That also did not work. She was stuck and did not know what to do. Do note: it makes sense to me that none of the aforementioned methods worked due to the form and style of delivery, tone, and the actual words she used. When it comes to this type of behavior of children and those who are relentless, an adult lacking in strong authority can become victimized which is painful to acknowledge as one would hope a child would never act like that to an adult nor a child. Yet there are children and adults who are abusive to the weaker party.
It is my opinion that there should be better education/training for bus monitors to arm them with skills upon which to cope with and handle children who behave like this. It is unacceptable how these kids behaved, and yet each generation there are children who act like this. As parents, we need to help our children to be someone who would not act like this. As educators we need to arm our staff with tools of which to handle children who do act like this.
- What are these kids going to be like when they are older?
Likely, they will remain bullies, sad to say if their behavior in this context is not addressed and future situations are not continued to have them and their parents eyes and ears open for an exploratory learning process. There are adult bullies who bully other adults (e.g., work environment, athletic contexts, social networks with isolating behaviors, . . .) and there are adults who bully kids (e.g., their own children, coaching context, . . . ). There is hope though, great hope that if the following takes place kids who display bullying behaviors can indeed grow and learn from this experience and make a wonderful shift in their behavioral future if the following steps take place:
- Confront themselves.
- Take ownership of their behavior, what they did.
- Believe what they did was wrong and understand why it was wrong.
- Feel embarrassed by their behavior and wish they never did it.
- Experience empathy and compassion.
- Have remorse.
- Genuinely wish to apologize and do so.
- Parental involvement on these children’s journey to help them to help themselves be children of character and help them on their ongoing journey of development so they can someday become adults of character is imperative. There are many ways parents can help their children develop into children and someday adults of character, to truly learn from this experience and continue to learn and grow into caring, empathetic, compassionate, stand up people (e.g., children volunteer at an elderly care facility, day to day interactions with others and how you and they talk about people).
- Continued mindful awareness of how their choices impact others and care about how their behaviors impact others.
This situation is most likely not situational. Children who relentlessly taunt another likely have behaved in a style of hurt towards others before and will again if not only this event is discussed with them, but ongoing education and dialogue with them takes place. Our educational system can certainly play a role in helping our youth culture. A class within health class discussing mental health/wellness and character exploring the 4 categories of behavior when it comes to bullying: 1) The Bully, 2) The Bullied, 3) The Bystander, 4) The Stand Up. A course that helped kids with this is not enough though. What we say and do everyday as parents is the #1 piece of the puzzle that helps our children become who they are.
- What does this type of bullying experience do to a person in this type of situation?
I would typically say that it would affect a person’s self worth and affect one’s emotional state of mind. Specifically a person in this situation would feel really down about themselves, sad, low self worth, and perhaps even fearful of going on the bus again with these same kids. Rather in this case with all of the media publicity and people contributing to a vacation fund for this bus monitor (Karen Klein), one could theorize that a person in this type of situation may very well feel supported and understood, after the initial surprise of all of the support wears off. Although a person in this type of situation may indeed feel hurt emotionally by this event, perhaps the larger feeling and experience of this event, the outcome could potentially be that she feels she is part of something bigger than herself. Specifically, feeling a part of an educational opportunity to help others to recognize the varying forms of emotional abuse and bullying that occurs would be wonderful if a person in this situation were to feel. The money that people are donating to her, wouldn’t it be wonderful if she were to decide to use a portion of it for bullying education? It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.
- Is there a lesson for kids in this?
This is a teachable moment for your children. Having them watch this video and discussing with them who they feel they are and who they want to be under the following 4 choices would be quite a wonderful parent-child dialogue to help kids get in touch with themselves in the context of the topic of bullying.
Watch the video of the bus monitor getting bullied with your child and ask your child their thoughts and feelings about it. Then, after patiently exploring their reaction discuss with your child if they feel they are someone who:
- Has experienced being bullied, or
- Has ever bullied someone, or
- Has ever been a bystander while someone else has been bullied and either; a) participated or b) ignored, or
- Has ever stood up when seeing another being bullied?
Then, further ask your child which of these 4 choices do you want to be?
- Are there warning signs that your child may be a bully?
The following are a few warning signs:
- If your child thinks this video is funny rather than feeling sad for the adult. If your child does not feel the kids were wrong.
- If your child seems to typically lack in empathy, lack in compassion, and/or often does not show remorse.
- If another child has ever reported that your child has bullied them.
- If your child reports that they have never been either a bully, bullied, a bystander, or has stood up. Everyone at one tine or another has been one of the 4. If your child is not mindful of which of the 4 he/she has experienced, then likely your child has bullied another and is not reflecting on that behavior. As a parent it is up to you to help your child to be cognizant of the person they are, who they wish to be, and to help them.
Check out my other blog article on bullying entitled: Bullying The New Breed – 5 Types.