PARENTS AND KIDS
Standing up to bullying
Parents are the No. 1 line of defence for children
WRITTEN BY CHERYL MAHAFFYPHOTOGRAPHED 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 andhone their social skills.
many of us knew growing up, bullyingincreasingly invades cyberspace, wherea single vicious post can spread far andlurk long.
“Only about two per cent of thepopulation actually bully, but that twoper cent is doing such tremendousharm,” says Dixon-Wells, whoseexperiences with bullying led her tofound Dare to Care in 1998. She addsthat parents are the No. 1 line of defenceto help the other 98 per cent a find theirvoice.
Here are some tips parents (and
others) can use to stand up to bullying.
Model. “Being aware of how youractions and words are affecting otherpeople is the first step to bullyingprevention,” says Katelyn Ferguson,youth outreach worker with the Boys &Girls Club of Airdrie.
Listen. “Keep the lines ofcommunication open,” says WendyHoglund, a University of Albertaprofessor of developmental science.
“When children or youth suggest they