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What If Your Kid's the Bully?

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Guest bloggerElizabeth Hurchalla:Since Tyler Clementi's suicide last week, there's been widespread media coverage about how to help your kids cope with cyberbullying. But what if you find out that your child is the one doing the bullying?! Ross Ellis of Love Our Children USA, an organization dedicated to ending violence against children, offers these tips on how to respond.

Dharun Ravi
  • Condemn the behavior, not your child.Tell your child that you love him no matter what, but his behavior has got to change. If you haven't already, talk about why bullying is wrong, and let him know that it can even result in legal consequences.
  • Swallow your pride. Don't stick your head in the sand. It's not just about making things right with the victim; it's also for your own kid's sake. Better to work through this now than have someone kill himself over something your child did -- or have your kid grow up to commit domestic abuse or other violence.
  • If your child's school is involved, work with them. Forming a united front with the school sets the stage for positive results for your child. Support whatever the school's consequences are, and enforce your own punishment at home (this might include taking away online privileges).
  • Get counseling for your kid. Even if it's "only" online teasing or name-calling, it's not a joke. A therapist can help you find out what's making your kid act this way -- and how to make it stop.

next: Confession: I Ignored a Recall
54 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anonymous October 6, 2010, 5:56 AM

Take repsonsiblity - if your kid is bullying someone they probably learned it from you!

Jennifer October 6, 2010, 7:59 AM

Good point Anon. I think that’s a BIG part of the problem. One or both of the parents are bullies themselves.

@mommymixup October 6, 2010, 8:35 AM

Great post. Bullying comes in so many forms and to be quite honest some kids dont consider their tomenting bullying. I so agree, parents have to become more involved and explain to their kids the severity of it. But like you said condemn the behavior. Ask them how they would feel if the same thing was done to them. Make them see it from the victims perspective.

@kidscareunited October 6, 2010, 9:46 AM

Listened to a great talk yesterday by Bill Gordon on “The Power of Kindness”. He said that if we do a better job teaching our children to be kind, we’ll be able to spend less time dealing with bullying. Sounds a tad simplistic, but he gives talks to teens that seem to be pretty effective.

Kelly October 6, 2010, 1:11 PM

Children learn what they live. They absorb the most by the actions they see, not the words parents say. Model kindness and empathy and acceptance.

KS October 6, 2010, 10:56 PM

It’s amazing to me how many children are caught using electronic media to terrorize their peers yet they still have access to it. First thing you should do is to remove any source of their ability to reach any of their victims. How about you start there. Molly coddling your juvenile delinquent will only create a career criminal.

The very last thing in my lecture to my child would be how we all love him very much but he has to be nicer to his peers now would you like a cookie oh and the counselor is going to tell you why this isn’t your fault too. NO SIR. Number one on the list would be a strip down of the room. Number two would be an in person apology to not only the child but the parents as well. Number three would be momma attending school with the offending child for at least one week. We don’t tolerate bullying in our house and the consequences have already been decided on by my husband and myself.

Louise McCloud October 12, 2010, 2:53 AM

I agree “bullies come from bullies”, this is a “learned behavior”. Having been bullied as a child (my name at school was Skeevy Louise”, I can tell you the problems it causes not only in childhood but in adulthood are horrible.

The problem is now a days bullying isn’t just name calling, it’s physical abuse, it’s much more intense because we have great technology, we have computers, text messaging, etc., it’s gone high tech and it’s costing lives.

My experience has been not only do bullies come from parents who they themselves were bullies as children, the parents and even some teachers feel bullying is a “right of passage”.

We need to adopt a “get tough” approach, make bullying (especially when it results in a child’s death) felony, also fine these parents and teachers (any adult who was aware of the bullying and did nothing) fine them big as in $1,000 first offense and anti-bullying classes for these adults and children. Also allow the parents of these bullied children to take these people to court for money, the reason “Wrongful death”

We have to get tough, we can no longer give these bullies and adults a “slap on the wrist”. How many children have to die? How many children have to be traumatized”? IT’S TIME WE GOT TOUGH ON THIS, REALLY TOUGH.

Anonymous October 12, 2010, 7:04 AM

First two things that came to mind was family counseling and internet taken away. I see this has all been covered……FINALLY A GOOD ARTICLE! Great posts everyone!

Alicia Burton October 12, 2010, 7:13 AM

Definitely children “learn” behavior. The thing is, sometimes people do not even realize they are teaching their kids certain behaviors. You should not let your kids hear you talk down other people. Because they will do it too.

Bruce October 12, 2010, 7:48 AM

You know this side of the story is almost never taken into consideration, we always talk about the effects of bullying in kids, but we never think about the actual Bullies. Are they using Kamagra and it alters their behavior? What causes this on them?

AmandaBee October 12, 2010, 8:24 AM

The real questions we need to be asking ourselves revolves around our feelings about being gay. We currently live in a world where most of our leaders and our pastors tell us that being gay is NOT ACCEPTABLE (or worse). Our children hear this. Our children learn this. We approve this way of thinking. If we really want this to stop we MUST start thinking of gayness as completely acceptable and normal. Hard to do, huh? Try it…for the rest of the day imagine you are gay, your son is gay, his best friend is gay. Does the world look different? Do you feel different?

Shirley Hodge October 12, 2010, 8:33 AM

Personally I prefer my Dad’s method of dealing with unacceptable behavior. He made us go out to the apple tree and pick our own switch and then applied it not viciously but enough to know that unacceptable behavior had consequences. I am now 75, am not a bully. raised 4 kids to have self respect and strive for excellence as did my Dad. There is way to much coddeling of kids today, blame the schools if you must, blame TV blame the internet but the bottom line always goes back to the parents and what they taught the kids. Tough love including a little capital punishment has a definate place in raising children.

Soma Jurgensen October 12, 2010, 8:36 AM

My kid was on a “sample a sport” team through community ed and I actually listened to a parent encourage his kid to bully mine. It was all I could do to keep from tackling the parent. My kid and I had a talk about standing up for oneself, boundaries, and what to do when you need help.

jonaD October 12, 2010, 8:36 AM

This is an opportunity for all the whiny droopy parents of the world, to elicit the help of fascists!, to protect their poor little over vulnerable whiny droopy children, against the evil horde… I know, I know.

Aileen October 12, 2010, 8:54 AM

I DO NOT believe everything I read doesn’t always start @ home,my son is a senior this year and he has been bullied since freshhman year and I recently found out,after noticing how angry he’s been after school,his class(including him) was bullying the new kids I reminded him that he didn’t like it so stop it,that is when he told me how he’d been bullied his entire highschool years,he is the president of student council,and is attempting to spread the message that it’s just NOT okay.I’m very proud of him for sticking his ‘neck’ out there!

annM October 12, 2010, 10:12 AM

A couple of months ago, I overheard my 5 year old inciting another child to be unkind to a third child. I let my child know that the behavior was unacceptable, and let the teacher know what had been said. Fortunately the school is very good about working with the children around how the treat one another. This incident really made me more alert not only to my kid’s behavior, but to how I interact with others as well. Good wake-up call for me.

Cat October 12, 2010, 12:55 PM

I think the age of the child needs to be taken into consideration and the most effective method of stopping the behavior applied. I can’t see how whipping a six or seven year old with a switch will teach kindness. The end goal is to raise a kid who internalizes the discipline for life, and learns that bullying is always unacceptable, even when he is too old to hit.

Greg Williams October 12, 2010, 1:02 PM

I am not sure what to say to this article. I have written several times explaining that THERE IS A SOLUTION but it seems either no one really cares or that my article did not get out to everyone. There is a software solution that INFORMS the parents about Cyber-Bullying, Sexting, Drugs, Guns, Predators, Texting while driving and MUCH MORE. With this software, the parent KNOWS what is going on BEFORE it happens. Geeze…is no one out there? This software is under $10.00 per month for a phone and only $15.00 per month for a computer and phone. Or a complete family plan is $39.95 per month…if you are really interested in protecting your kids and protecting other kids, go to and buy it. You an email me at if you want more info. The software is compatable with about 40 phones…so check the website out for yourself

Myasia MAYO November 19, 2010, 9:05 AM

Ihate bullying

tudung bidang 60 December 17, 2010, 7:00 AM

I think your post was secretly a good start to a potential series of posts about this topic. A lot of people pretend to know what they’re talking about when it comes to this topic and generally, very few people actually get it. You seem to know about it however, so I think you should run with it. Thanks!

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