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Bullying has been a topic much in the news in recent months and a documentary on the topic is being released this month.  We thought we would take this opportunity to address the issue here.

People take many different attitudes toward bullying these days.  Some minimize it.  You hear about “kids being kids” and “everyone has dealt with it.”  Some adults may take it too seriously and not trust children or teenagers to manage any conflict or disagreement on their own.

We urge you to think about it as a serious problem.  We need to support children in handling their own conflict and disagreement, but to also acknowledge things can get seriously out of hand.  Some situations need intervention.

We also need to be aware of the breadth of things we should pay attention to.  There is bullying that physically hurts kids, but there is also bullying that does its biggest damage on the emotional level.  The old playground retort sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me isn’t really true.  Children and teenagers strive for connection with peers and words can be very hurtful.

We adults also need to acknowledge we don’t really understand what life is like for children and teenagers today.  The world has changed a lot since we were that age.  Much of children’s social lives today takes place online or on their phones.  Part of what that means is when things are going poorly it is difficult to find refuge and get away from it.  When we were kids we could go in our room and shut the door and pretty much not be reached.  Now much of the social interaction, and potential bullying, can even happen behind those closed bedroom doors.

Once again, we encourage you to think about the example you set for your children.  How you treat and speak about others sets up how they will think of others.  And how you stick up for yourself will impact how they think of themselves.

We will write more about bullying in the future but just wanted to put out some things for you to think about right now.