Kids know best on what parents need to parent about. Running out of topic ideas, I went to my daughter’s room asking her for suggestions. Without hesitation she squealed ““bullying”. Oh, how she knows this topic so well. My heart goes out to my two girls who had to deal with the school bully. I teach my kids to be good girls but how to deal with a bully? I didn’t want them to be the bully nor wanted them to be bullied. I engaged in role playing where I pretended to be a bully and I taught the girls to be gently firm with their bully. Such tips included but were not limited to ignoring the bully and walking away, not showing anger nor hitting back. Along with these, I continued to develop their confidence by honing their skills in music and to open communication lines.
Role-playing was easier said than done because it needed the cooperation of school authorities. My daughter who was then in Grade 1 once wrote me a note that she felt terrible in class and if a street mouse had the same feelings. Now that she is an adult, she articulates these feelings. ““Think about it. You’re a little kid, and all you really want is to make friends with the kids you go to school with everyday. Then you find out that not only do your schoolmates reject your attempts at friendship Ã¢â‚¬â€œ they also make fun of the most trivial things about you, like the way you speak. You start to wonder if maybe there’s something seriously wrong with you because nobody can seem to like you for the way you are. You start hating yourself and constantly doubting your abilities, and you find it difficult to open up to people and form deep friendships with anyone.”
What about the bully? Bullying is violence, and it often leads to more violent behavior as the bully grows up. My daughter reflects back on these unpleasant experiences. As a bully victim, her story doesn’t sound particularly traumatizing to an outsider. One doesn’t have to get beaten up in the playground to develop emotional scars that stay on for the rest of your child’s life Ã¢â‚¬â€œ especially when the damage is psychological, which is what female bullying is about.
Knowing the bullying tactics that victimized my sweet and gentle daughter just broke my heart. During the nineties, talking with the teachers and guidance counselors were futile. All they could muster to say is ““your daughter has to learn to live with these bullies”. Moving schools was an option but where? Anti-bullying campaign in Philippine Schools was not yet in place in the mid-nineties. Today, schools are more enlightened to embark on anti-bullying programs to lessen the instances of bullying on campus by creating a supportive school community of students, teachers, and parents. Some of these schools are not cheap but it doesn’t mean parents are helpless. Home schooling is an option but it is not for everyone.
DepEd issued the Child Protection Policy guidelines May last year in partnership “with civil society groups, teachers’ groups, private and public school representatives, and international agencies. Bullies will receive a warning and reprimand for the first and second offense, respectively, and one0week suspension for the third offense.”
Schools should already implement a safe school program that includes fighting against bullying. Through the persistence of the parents, a comprehensive, school-wide framework was developed for the prevention of bullying or any form of discrimination or harassment can be done. My sister initiated one in her son’s school. She told me the goal of their program is ““to use interventions at the levels of the student, parents, and school to ensure that all concerned are given a consistent, coordinated, and strong message that bullying will not be tolerated and that it can be prevented if everyone works together.”
Just like real-life situations, knowledge on parenting in a digital world is crucial for monitoring cyber-bullying. No one wants to see their children hurt and become helpless in the process. If parents do nothing, nothing will happen. The bullying won’t stop. ““What kind of lesson will be passed on to our children if their elders shrug off bullying as something totally normal?” That is the question that my daughter imparted to me. Our young kids need to know that we are speaking out for them when their voices are left unheard in school. It is time for parents to speak up and fight against bullying.