#Bullying from the #Bully Perspective with @JoaniPlenty! by Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
At 30Second Mom, we are very fortunate to have a diverse panel of contributors who share their insights on a variety of topics that matter to parents everywhere. Perhaps no topic has received more interest (and international press) lately than bullying. We have many great tips on how you can help your child if they are the target of a bully, and we had a great chat with 30Second Mom contributor Joani Plenty on Bullying from the Bully’s Perspective. As a former child bully, Joani was brave enough to share her story and her insights with us. Make sure you read her tip about preventing a bully from choosing your child as a target, and take a look at our interview with her below to understand – and learn – how bullying can happen and what you can do to help your child!
Q: What do you think caused you to become a bully?
A: I was from a broken home. I was homeless until age 5, and then one night with a babysitter turned into two weeks when no one knew where my mother was. I was verbally, emotionally and physically abused after age 5. It was normal to physically discipline in the ’70s when I grew up. I was not taught to control my anger, just how to use it. Nothing was ever said calmly by my grandmother. I missed my mother, who always said “I love you.” I was yelled at for saying it in my grandmother’s home.
Q: As a former child bully, what strategies were effective in deterring you?
A: 1) Confidence. My actions didn’t matter if they didn’t bother the target. I looked like a fool and would move on to someone it did work on. 2) Proof. Remind your child to note who, what, when and where the bullying happened. If your child is a bystander to bullying, remind them to use a phone video camera to capture what’s happening if possible. 3) Kindness. It made my job as a bully much harder. I even now have friends who I once bullied.
Q: What do you suggest parents do if they suspect that their child is being bullied?
A: I’ve created an acronym to help parents who suspect their child is being bullied: T.A.L.K. Here’s what it stands for. T: Talk to your child, the school and other parents in the neighborhood. A: Assess the situation fully, as some things are isolated and may not constitute bullying. L: Listen carefully and don’t jump to conclusions about the other child. K: Keep your cool and set a good example.
A: If this happens at school, I suggest telling a teacher (any teacher) immediately. Don’t let a bully see you sweat. Instead of shying away from a bully (giving them mental power), walk confidently past them. “Kill ‘em with kindness.” Bullies are human, too, and being nice helps.
Q: What do you suggest for the parent who has discussed the issue with the bully’s parent to no avail?
A: If bullying happens on school grounds, request a meeting with the teacher, principal and the bully’s parents. Don’t turn it into a battle of the parents. Set a good example. Your child must still show respect for other adults. Avoid other parents if possible. If the bully’s parents feel ganged up on, they may retaliate or take it out on their child. This can perpetuate the cycle of bullying.
Q: What can parents do to help with the anti-bullying movement?
A: I believe more “bystander awareness” is needed. Not everyone can do everything, but everyone can do something. Petition legislators for tougher laws for parents who can be proven to have corrupted the morals of a minor. Set a good example. For instance, parents send the wrong message when they migrate into small cliques on the soccer field. Help build confidence in your child with anger management skills, activities that build social skills and/or self-defense skills.
Q: What are your thoughts on social/cyber bullying?
A: First, it’s a crime, one that could go from a lawsuit to second-degree murder fast if the target takes their own life! If you’re a victim of social bullying, do not react to the bully. Instead, contact authorities! The bully will make his/her own bed, so to speak. Girls/women are more likely to be cyber-bully targets, and it starts young. Most schools/employers have a “no retaliation” policy, so if this happens to you, do tell. Separate your child from toxic friendships, even if it’s a BFF. Better your child cries now than for you to cry later if something happens. The good news is that the anti-bullying movement is strong. Technology makes cyber-bullying easier, but it’s harder now than just a few years ago. Remember: many bullies don’t want to bully. They feel they have to (peer pressure, family feud or loyalty to another).