PARENTS AND KIDS
Standing up to bullying
Parents are the No. 1 line of defence for children
WRITTEN BY CHERYL MAHAFFY
PHOTOGRAPHED BY KELSY NIELSON
All through her early school years, Lisa
Dixon-Wells stood silent as a classmate
endured ruthless bullying. “Nobody
helped him or spoke up,” she says with
regret, recalling the pack mentality that
prevailed. “We just watched.”
Unlike spats between friends, which
can help children learn to negotiate
conflict, bullying is always toxic.
Intentionally mean, repeated and power-
hungry, bullying leaves the bullied
feeling devalued and alone.
Beyond the name-calling, fighting,
exclusion, sexual slurs and gossip
Parents can help children develop positive, healthy relationships by involving them in activities that build their confidence and
hone their social skills.
many of us knew growing up, bullying
increasingly invades cyberspace, where
a single vicious post can spread far and
“Only about two per cent of the
population actually bully, but that two
per cent is doing such tremendous
harm,” says Dixon-Wells, whose
experiences with bullying led her to
found Dare to Care in 1998. She adds
that parents are the No. 1 line of defence
to help the other 98 per cent a find their
Here are some tips parents (and
others) can use to stand up to bullying.
Model. “Being aware of how your
actions and words are affecting other
people is the first step to bullying
prevention,” says Katelyn Ferguson,
youth outreach worker with the Boys &
Girls Club of Airdrie.
Listen. “Keep the lines of
communication open,” says Wendy
Hoglund, a University of Alberta
professor of developmental science.
“When children or youth suggest they