April 29, 2013

Keys to ending bullying

On March 9, I got to see one of my favorite Twitter connections, Dr. Michele Borba as part of the Community Empowerment Series organized in part by my friend and colleague Sue Scheff.

It seems like forever ago.

I was so excited to tell you all about her presentation on bullying I could barely stand it. And then my life got CRAZY. A serious family crisis began that very night, and I have only now begun to come up for air.

We all know bullying is a problem for our children and youth today. But it was disturbing to hear Dr. Borba lay out the extent of the issue. For example, twenty percent of five year olds today are being bullied.

That came as a shock to me, but later my four year-old daughter became the target of taunting on her preschool playground. And the statistic turned to reality.

Overall, one in three kids in the US in bullied. That number is one in five internationally. Aggression is entrenched by the age of eight. Bullying peaks at the middle school level. Sibling bullying is at an all-time high.

But the true focus of Dr. Borba's presentation was on solutions. I learned so much from her, it would impossible to share it all in a single blog post. Or even a series of them.

As I sat down and looked through my extensive notes, I realized it all boiled down to two things: empathy and empowerment.


Teaching our children empathy is the key to ending bullying behaviors. We have to give our kids "permission to care," asserts Dr. Borba. This message has been shared by experts on the topic again and again.

It was present in the documentary Submit. Annie Fox wrote about it in her book Teaching Kids To Be Good People. Both offered great advice about how to foster empathy in our kids.

Dr. Borba talked about "the moral core" of empathy, self-control, conscience. Adults are essential to stopping bullying behavior. Parents have to be the example. Schools need to create compassionate learning cultures.

Home environments less likely to raise bullies have warm, positive, active adult involvement and interest. There are firm limits to unacceptable behaviors. Consistent, non-hostile, fair discipline. And strong adult role models.


In order to successfully address today's bullying issues, Dr. Borba says a coordinated effort is needed with the entire community involved. Most importantly, we need to empower our kids to do something.

We need to teach new behaviors. Bullying is learned, but it CAN be unlearned. Furthermore, kids don't have to be a victim. They can be equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to avoid or stand up to bullying behavior.

Dr. Borba feels the best hope overall to the bullying problem is to create "upstanders." Research reinforces this approach. If we can mobilize our kids, providing them with the skills to move away from being bystanders, we can help curb or even eliminate bullying.

Eighty percent of kids witness bullying with no adult present. The bullying stops within 60 seconds when kids themselves intervene, fifty-seven percent of the time. We need to empower them to do so.

Dr. Borba has many wonderful resources to help adults do just that on her website. Children learn news skills through repetition.  So it is vital for parents to talk with their kids, model important behaviors and help their children practice the skills they need to be part of the solution.

We don't have to feel helpless when it comes to addressing bullying, and neither do our kids. Thank you, Michelle, for all you are doing to give us all the tools we need to succeed! You are amazing!

Dr. Borba on the right. No, we did not coordinate outfits.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Related Posts with Thumbnails